Comcast Wants To Be Your Apple TV

Love streaming apps but don’t love cable? Your friendly (ahem) neighborhood Comcast cable franchise would like to rent you a streaming set-top for $5/month. Of course, most cord cutters aren’t exactly interested in the ongoing fees and platform limitations associated with hardware rentals. Hence, the meteoric rise of Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku. Yet, here we are:

Xfinity Flex comes with more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows—including live streaming TV—from ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto, Tubi TV, Cheddar, YouTube, and more.  The Xfinity Flex box features an integrated guide and voice control, enabling customers to easily browse and access programming across apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and Showtime, rent and purchase movies and shows from the digital store, access their digital lockers across platforms by pairing their account with Movies Anywhere, or listen to music from Pandora, iHeartRadio, and XITE.

Beyond access to a number of streaming apps, presumably dwarfed by the other platforms, Comcast lock-in provides them an upsell avenue. “Hey, these Internet streaming apps are so great maybe I should get cable too!” What?

Xfinity Flex customers will be able to easily upgrade to the full Xfinity X1 cable service right from the guide, which offers hundreds of live channels, tens of thousands of on demand titles, and a cloud DVR.

Anyhow, in Comcast’s defense, the pricing isn’t entirely outrageous, the 4K hardware looks decent, and the Xfinity voice remote has been very good (at my mom’s place). Plus that service fee gets you ongoing tech support. But I’m having mom stick with her Roku TVs for streaming, thank you very much.

7 thoughts on “Comcast Wants To Be Your Apple TV”

  1. You say you can upgrade to full Comcast TV on it? Is it IPTV like directv now? Comcast isn’t in my area but does that mean as long as I supply high speed Internet, I could still have this?

  2. Only available to Comcast broadband customers. If upgrading to cable, I’d *guess* it’s QAM from headend to DOCSIS modem and then relayed over home IP network.

  3. As a Comcast customer I avoid anything Related to Comcast that I can.

    It’s like giving money to a criminal. A BAD criminal.

  4. From the look of the UI, it is almost certainly a customized Android TV box.

    The reason it exists is to upsell, and the pricing is actually extremely high when compared to a firetv or roku stick coming in around $50 purchased flat-out.

  5. The box is actually their existing IP-only Xi6 set-top box, running their own X1 operating system. It can handle 4K and HDR10. No QAM tuners, no hard drive, but enough flash memory to buffer 25 minutes of live HD video. Comcast has deployed limited numbers of this box so far to some of their X1 cable TV subscribers who have another larger X1 device as their main box. This is also the same box that Rogers in Canada is using on a standalone basis for all subscribers on their new Ignite IPTV service. I expect that Comcast will likewise eventually use this box on a standalone basis as they transition their top-tier X1 cable TV service from QAM to exclusively IPTV.

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