As cord cutting starts to put a real dent in the bottom lines of cable and satellite businesses, some are getting creative in their attempts to stem the tide. Comcast has taken a kind of if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em approach to the problem by announcing today that all of its Xfinity internet-only customers now get the Xfinity Flex service included in their subscriptions. Launched in March 2019, Xfinity Flex was previously a $5 per month additional fee for these Comcast subscribers.
Xfinity Flex is an IPTV product that packages up popular streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, etc., along with free sources of streaming content such as YouTube, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, and Xumo in one easy-to-navigate experience. A new “Free to me” section within the Flex guide lets you see the more than 10,000 free shows and movies that are available via the free streaming options, according to Comcast. NBCUniversal’s Peacock service will be a future add-on option, as will Hulu. Flex users can buy or rent movies and shows via the built-in digital store, and if you’re a Movies Anywhere customer you can access your locker from the Flex interface too.
It’s all done on the Xfinity Flex set-top box, a small footprint 4K UHD device that comes with a voice-capable remote. Internet-only customers get the Flex box, the remote, and the option to lease additional Flex boxes for their other TVs at $5 per month.
Xfinity Flex provides cord cutters with a well-designed tool that aggregates all of their streaming options in one place and in so doing, effectively creates a new competitor for Apple’s TV App, which aims to do the same thing. Xfinity Flex can also act as an internet and smart home control center, with options like seeing your Wi-Fi passwords, turning on and off Wi-Fi access to various devices in the home, viewing video feeds from their cameras and arming or disarming their home security systems.
Even more importantly from Comcast’s perspective, later this year, Flex subscribers can upgrade to the full range of Xfinity X1 cable channels — including a DVR function — should they decide that cutting the cord has proven too much of a sacrifice from a TV perspective.
If you’re an existing Flex subscriber, you should see your $5 per month fee automatically disappear from your bill, but if it doesn’t, contact Comcast to get it removed. If you’re an internet-only customer who wants to get on-board with the free offer, you’ll need to call or drop by a Comcast Xfinity retail store to pick up the free set-top box.
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