Comcast beat Apple to the punch on Thursday by launching its own video aggregation service dubbed Xfinity Flex.
Xfinity Flex, priced at $5 per month, is packaged with an internet-connected, 4K HDR streaming TV device which comes with voice remote. The service will only be available to Xfinity internet customers in Comcast’s footprint and is set to launch on March 26.
Flex will offer access to subscription services like HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Epix. Flex users can sign up for these services on the platform or access existing subscriptions.
Matt Strauss, executive vice president of Xfinity Services at Comcast, said the Flex platform is about combating app fatigue and will work to aggregate and curate content instead.
In addition to subscription services, Comcast will feature free ad-supported services and free licensed content. At launch, Flex will feature more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows—including live streaming TV—from ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto, Tubi TV, Cheddar, YouTube and more.
Flex also works with the Movies Anywhere service, so movies purchased through Movies Anywhere digital partners can be accessed on the Flex platform.
If those options aren’t enough, Flex customers can upgrade to one of Comcast’s video packages directly on the device. Because of that option, Flex won't be offering support for virtual MVPDs like Sling TV and YouTube TV.
In addition to streaming video, Flex is being positioned as a control panel for the connected home. Strauss said the Flex platform will allow users to view and manage connected devices on their Wi-Fi network.
On a call with reporters, Strauss said Flex is, in part, about driving increased adoption of Comcast’s X1 video platform. He said the X1 platform already reported 6 billion hours of on-demand video consumption in 2018, 20% increase year over year. Strauss also said X1 can actually boost Nielsen ratings compared with viewing off the platform.
But Comcast won’t be targeting Flex as a mass-market service. Strauss said that Comcast likely won’t be running commercials for Flex. The service will be available in retails stores but marketing will focus on digital channels to reach Comcast’s internet-only segments.