Comcast’s Xfinity ‘Watchathon Week’ to Feature Hulu Originals

Comcast Cable’s annual Xfinity “Watchathon Week” pay-TV smorgasbord is slated for May 11-17 featuring more than 10,000 free TV shows and movies from more than 70 networks and streaming services, including, for the first time ever, Hulu originals such as “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Ramy,” “Shrill” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Other original programming includes Epix’s “Godfather of Harlem” and “Belgravia”; Starz’s “Outlander,” “Power,” and new series “Hightown,” and Showtime drama “Billions”. Programming will be available across Xfinity platforms including X1, Flex and Xfinity Stream.

New this year, X1 customers can tune into an Xfinity Watchathon Week Channel featuring free programming across providers curated by Xfinity’s team of editors. The channel can be accessed within the guide on channel one.

Launched in 2013 as an antidote to streaming services such Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, “Watchathon” affords Xfinity subscribers free access for one week to practically every major TV show and recent movie.

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“With so many customers still at home, we’ve not only seen a 50% increase in Xfinity On Demand viewing across genres of programming from drama and comedy to reality, but we’re noticing other interesting trends like a more than double-digit growth for discovery-related voice commands such as ‘what to watch’ and ‘surprise me,'” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment, said in a statement.

Comcast Launching X1 Set-Top in Hotels

Comcast June 18 bowed its first X1 set-top device in the hospitality business with the availability of the cloud-based device in 219 rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia-based cable operator said Four Seasons guests would have access to 300 channel options and a free library of more than 50,000 TV shows and on-demand movies.

Guests can use the X1 Voice Remote to search for networks, shows and movies, set DVR recordings, change the channel, get recommendations, navigate On Demand content and more.

Comcast says its residential X1 subscribers used the voice remote more than 1.5 billion times in the first three months of 2018. The X1 device now represents more than 55% of Comcast sub base.

A two-tuner DVR, allows users to record programming while watching something else or save to be viewed when they return to their rooms. Hotels can include promotional and informational content as well.

“We believe X1 will help elevate our guests’ in-room experience and create a truly world-class visit,” Ben Shank, GM of Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center, said in a statement.

“Comcast has the potential to disrupt the $3 billion [domestic] business TV market with X1 for hospitality,” added Greg Ireland, multiscreen video analyst at IDC. “Products and solutions that have generated excellent results on the residential side can help businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, gain an edge in attracting new and returning consumers.”

Cox Adds YouTube to Online TV Service

Cable pay-TV operator Cox Communications reportedly has begun offering access to YouTube (including YouTube Channels) on its upstart “Contour” online TV service. The cabler recently incorporated direct-access to Netflix subscribers as well.

Contour, which is available in pay-TV channel bundles priced from $59.99 monthly is powered by Comcast’s broadband-based X1 platform. Contour features include a voice remote, which allows customers to change channels, find shows, get recommendations and launch apps by simply using voice commands.

The TV app offers personalized news, weather and traffic, including a sports app which shows stats and scores on the TV screen without interrupting the game. The cloud-based Contour interface is available in-home and on a mobile app which allows viewing on mobile devices both in and outside the home.



Comcast Begins Streaming SlingTV International on X1 Set-Top Devices

As expected, Comcast has begun offering Xfinity subscribers direct access to Sling TV’s multicultural programing.

First announced last November, the agreement between the nation’s largest cable operator and satellite operator Dish Network (which owns Sling TV) underscores Comcast’s expansion beyond its walled pay-TV ecosystem. The cabler currently offers direct-access to Netflix, Pandora, YouTube and NPR podcasts.

“And today, we’re excited to add another choice to the platform with the launch of the Sling International app on X1,” Rebecca Simpson, executive director international strategy and programing at Comcast Cable, wrote in an April 5 blog post.

Sling International offers multicultural content from different countries in 21 languages starting at $10 per month.

Available languages include Arabic, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi, Urdu, Bangla, Bengali, Brazilian, French, Italian, German, Polish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Taiwanese and Mandarin.

Existing Sling TV customers will be able to log in and access any of the international live or on-demand programming that’s part of their current package.  New customers will be able to sign up directly through the Sling International app on X1 at