Comcast Launches Interactive Bilingual Election News Platform on X1 and Flex

With the national elections heating up and general news viewership on Xfinity platforms up 38% from the same time period last year, Comcast Aug. 18 is launching Election Central, now available on X1 and Flex — the latter a broadband based non-cable online TV service.

Election Central is designed to help subscribers access the latest information on voting in their state via their Xfinity Voice Remote and makes all the latest election news and happenings available in one place in both English and Spanish.

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Additionally, X1 and Flex customers can say “How to vote” or “Cómo votar” into the Xfinity Voice Remote to find general voting information such as how to register, how to vote this year, and breakdowns of the key 2020 races. And for the first time, by selecting the tile that says “Voting Information” or “Información para votar,” customers will be able to enter their mobile number and receive a link to vote.gov, the official U.S. government voter information website with information on voting in their specific state.

Election Central will also stream curated content featuring programming from more than a dozen networks and streaming services, including ABC News, CBS News, Cheddar, CNN, CNN en Español, C-SPAN, Fox Nation, Fox News, iHeartRadio, MSNBC, NBC News, Newsmax, Newsy, NPR, PBS, Telemundo, TYT, Univision and YouTube, among others.

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Through platform, X1 and Flex customers can also find live and on demand coverage and highlights of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions on their preferred network within the “Choose Your News Row.”

Historical moments from campaign trails, including coverage from Democratic and Republican National Conventions dating back to 1948, as well as documentaries and specials.

On demand episodes from political affairs shows, including ABC News’s This Week, CBS News’s Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union (X1 Only), Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

Podcasts for news and analysis, including the Chuck Toddcast from NBC News, The Ben Shapiro Show, The Daily from The New York TimesThe Glenn Beck Program and Up First from NPR.

Xfinity Flex Surpasses 1 Million Devices Deployed

Comcast May 14 announced it has deployed more than 1 million Xfinity Flex devices since the unit’s launch last year. Included with Xfinity Internet (broadband) for free, the device leverages Xfinity X1 technology to deliver video to high-speed Internet-only (non-pay-TV) subscribers.

Dana Strong, president, Xfinity consumer services, said the platform combines access to 200 third-party streaming services such as Peacock, Hulu, CBS All Access, Radio.com and Black News Channel. These services join Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, HBO Now, YouTube, Epix, Starz and Pandora. Flex also affords subs access to AVOD services such as NBCUniversal’s Xumo, Tubi and Pluto TV.

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“Flex was designed to fit seamlessly into the lives of our Internet-only customers,” Strong said.

Last month, NBCU previewed Peacock to Flex subs. Peacock Premium is now available to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers at no extra cost. The service offers over 15,000 hours of shows and movies, and Flex customers can simply say “Peacock” into their voice remote to explore iconic shows and movies, NBC favorites, plus trending news and pop culture updated daily.

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NBCUniversal Bows Peacock Streaming Service to Comcast Xfinity/Flex Subs on April 15; Possible Expedited Nationwide Launch

NBCUniversal April 15 begins offering its branded Peacock streaming service to Comcast Cable Xfinity/Flex subscribers. Programming will include catalog TV shows and movies, including former NBC standouts, “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock” and “Law & Order: SVU,” the entire “Saturday Night Live” catalog, and Universal Pictures movies Jurassic Park, E.T. and Schindler’s List, among others.

The Peacock app will be available with the nationwide, which could be moved up from its previously announced July 15 date, Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock (and former Media Play News “Digital Driver”) April 14 told a media conference call.

Peacock Premium will be available for free to Comcast pay-TV subscribers; $4.99 monthly with ads to non-subs; and $7.99 with out commercials.

Strauss said NBCUniversal is “evaluating” moving up the launch date with millions of Americans quarantined in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The SVOD/AVOD platform was expected to play a major role in NBC’s 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage — plans that were turned upside down when the quadrennial event was pushed by to 2021.

“We feel even more strongly we need to bring Peacock as quickly to market as possible,” Strauss said.

Matt Strauss

The longtime Comcast executive said Peacock originals, including “Brave New World,” an update of “Saved By the Bell,” with original cast members Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez, among others, would be available on the platform later this year or in 2021.

Peacock Free will include 7,500 hours of content, including next-day access to current NBC TV series.

Peacock Premium showcases 15,000 hours of content, in addition to early access (by 3 1/2 hours) to “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

 

Comcast Adds Free VOD, SVOD Access to Xfinity, Flex Platforms

Citing an increase of in-home viewing due to social distancing and the coronavirus, Comcast March 25 announced that it has made the VOD catalogs from a series of premium networks and SVOD services available to its Xfinity X1 and Flex customers for free for 30 days — beginning with Showtime, Epix, CuriosityStream, History Vault, Grokker Yoga Fitness & Wellbeing, The Reading Corner and DogTV.

“This is an unprecedented time and we want to be there for our customers to help make the time they’re spending at home easier with free previews from our network, studio and streaming partners,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video & entertainment at Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

X1 and Flex subs can access the free programming with their voice remote, which spans kids educational content, fitness, and TV & movies.

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Showtime programming includes back episodes of “Billions,” “Homeland,” “Shameless,” “City on a Hill” and “Kidding.”

Epix includes a full catalog of thousands of movies, along with acclaimed original series, such as “Godfather of Harlem,” “Pennyworth,” “War of the Worlds” and “Belgravia,” premiering April 12.

CuriosityStream includes 60 days free of documentaries and series on science, history, wildlife, adventure and travel, including “Ancient Earth” and “The History of Food.”

The whole family is covered with 30 days free of programs for dogs, as well as dog-related programs for all dog lovers with DogTV. Grokker Yoga Fitness & Wellbeing features 30 days free of expert-led video classes in fitness, yoga, meditation and healthy cooking.

History Vault includes 30 days of classic series, documentaries and
specials. From series like Modern Marvels to specials about ancient cultures, HISTORY Vault is the one-stop destination for exploring the past, present and future.

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Kids Room features 30 days free of a wide selection of popular series filled with stories and beloved characters. Popular children’s series, include “Bob the Builder,” “Polly Pocket” and “Strawberry Shortcake.”

The Great Courses Signature Collection includes 30 days free of engaging and educational video lectures from the world’s greatest professors; hundreds of subjects to learn; from photography to psychology, guitar to genetics, or mindful health to a vast exploration of history.

The Reading Corner features 30 days free of reading videos on themes such as spring, holiday, school and nature. For children up to 10 years old. Stories include “Donuts: The Hole Story,” “This Is a Book Full of Monsters” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Xfinity said it plans to open up more preview content from dozens of new networks, studios and streaming partners on a rolling basis over the coming weeks.

In addition, Comcast has undertaken a comprehensive COVID-19 response inclusive of opening Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots across the country to anyone who needs them for free (including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers), pausing data plans, creating a COVID-19 news destination on X1 and Flex, and making its Internet Essentials program free for new families for the first 60 days of enrollment.

NBC Universal CEO: ‘Peacock’ Streaming Service Not Chasing Netflix

Seeking to avoid confusion among consumers facing a barrage of new high-profile subscription streaming video services entering the market next month, NBC Universal plans to focus its branded Peacock service around ad-supported content.

Speaking on the Oct. 24 Comcast fiscal call, Stephen Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, said Peacock would attempt to assuage Xfinity subscribers considering ditching the traditional cable bundle for over-the-top video.

NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke

“I think the most important thing to think about as you’re thinking about Peacock and its role inside NBCU and broader Comcast, is we’re not doing the same strategy that Netflix and people chasing Netflix have adopted,” Burke said.

Comcast, long a defender of linear TV, has slowly adopted Netflix, YouTube and other OTT behemoths into the Xfinity ecosystem in an effort to mollify subs and keep their discretionary home entertainment spending within the pay-TV market.

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“Consumers are still trying to figure this [OTT video] out. Do I cut the cord or not? We’re in the middle of a transition phase from pay-TV model to streaming model,” Rick Kowalski, senior manager of business intelligence at the Consumer Technology Association, told NBC News. “The platforms are still trying to figure out which content and what’s the most comprehensive package they can offer, based on what their vision is. But I think we’re still in a very transitional phase.”

As a result, Burke said Peacock — which will be offered to Xfinity subs as well as the general market — would largely revolve around ad-supported content so as not to add to the monthly cable bill.

“We think that … [is going to] cut the investment pretty substantially, because I think we’re going to get to cruising altitude much more quickly than a subscription service,” he said.

Peacock will target Comcast’s 55 million video subs with a tentative April launch aimed at segueing into NBCU’s 2020 Summer Olympics coverage in Tokyo.

“It’s a very, very interesting time as everybody tries to figure out what their strategy is, and we’re very optimistic,” Burke said.

Peacock will be bundled with Xfinity Flex, Comcast Cable’s Internet-only streaming service affording direct access to OTT services, including Netflix.

“It’s a great opportunity for Flex to be able to give a lot of great NBC programming, shows like ‘The Office,’ to people at no additional charge to a broadband sub or a cable sub,” Burke said.

The executive said that, with the arrival of Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max, there will be a period of “very, very aggressive” marketing and promotion surrounding the new platforms and SVOD in particular.

“At some point, there’ll be an inevitable slowing down and shakeout, and the market will get a little bit more rational,”Burke said. “But I think it’s a moment in time, and consumers are making their choices of apps and viewing habits, and you want to be aggressive to get in there and make sure that your service is one of the consumers’ handful of favorite services.”