IMDb TV Lands First Pay-TV Partner: Comcast’s Xfinity Flex and X1

IMDb TV, Amazon’s ad-supported streaming service, Aug. 17 announced that its app is now available on Comcast’s Xfinity Flex and Xfinity X1. The launch on X1 marks IMDb TV’s first pay-TV partner, and expands Comcast’s embrace of competing digital platforms.

IMDb TV features originals from the award-winning Amazon Studios, including the recently launched docuseries “Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary” and heist drama Leverage: Redemption, and the upcoming dramedy Pretty Hard Cases, premiering Sept 10.

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The free streaming service also features an extensive and updating library of movies and television shows, including “Chicago Fire,” “All in the Family,” The Hunger Games and How to Train Your Dragon, among others.

The expanded distribution follows IMDb TV app launches this year on Roku, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, LG Smart TVs (2018-21 models), PlayStation 4 consoles as well as Chromecast with Google TV, NVIDIA SHIELD and other Android TV devices. Earlier this month, the IMDb TV app launched on iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices in the United States.

In addition to third-party devices, IMDb TV is available as an app on Fire TV and a free Channel within the Prime Video app across hundreds of devices.

Comcast Adds Hulu + Live TV to Xfinity Flex

Comcast July 22 announced that its broadband-only Xfinity Flex subscribers now have access to Disney’s Hulu + Live TV, the largest online TV platform with more than 4 million subs.

Existing Hulu + Live TV subs can access their programming from within Flex’s existing Hulu app by saying “Hulu” into their Xfinity Voice Remote. After signing in with their credentials, they’ll have access to their full subscription — including dozens of live channels (and associated on demand programming) spanning sports, news, kids and entertainment, Hulu originals, exclusive series, and more. In the coming weeks, new customers will be able to sign-up for the service via their Flex devices.

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“The addition of Hulu + Live TV on Flex adds tremendous value for our internet customers, giving them access to more of their streaming content and subscriptions alongside a growing catalog of free programming — all seamlessly integrated into one voice-enabled and easy-to-navigate experience,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

Hulu + Live TV joins a growing list of linear streaming services available on Flex, including Xfinity Stream, Sling TV, Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount+, Xumo and Pluto.

AVOD Crackle Bows on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex

Crackle Plus, one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand networks, April 14 announced the launch of the Crackle app on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex.

The move marks another step by legacy pay-TV operator Comcast to embrace competing content distribution models on its platform, beginning with Netflix and YouTube in 2016.

“Crackle is thrilled to bring Xfinity X1 and Flex customers Crackle’s extensive originals and exclusive series, as well as a growing library of movies, docu-series, sports content, and classic TV,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

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With this launch, Xfinity subscribers can now enjoy the full Crackle experience, including a free library of studio film titles and classic TV series as well as a growing list of original and exclusive programming such as: “Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story,” “Insomnia,” “Black Water: Abyss,” “Lennox Lewis: The Untold Story,” “Robert the Bruce,” “Spides,” “Corporate Animals,” “Blue Iguana,” “Anything is Possible: The Serge Ibaka Story,” “Road to Race Day,” “On Point,” “Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters,” “The Clearing,” “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life” and “Going From Broke,” now in production for a second season.

In the coming weeks, X1 and Flex subs will also be able to find Crackle programming by saying the name of Crackle titles, such as “Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story” into the Xfinity Voice Remote. Additionally, they will soon be able to browse Crackle programming aggregated within collections as “Free to me,” “Top genres” and “What to Watch” right alongside all of the other programming available to them on X1 and Flex.

Crackle content is available in the U.S. on 29 devices and services, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku TV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

Discovery+ Streaming Service Bows on Comcast Xfinity Flex, and Soon X1

Discovery and Comcast April 8 announced the launch of Discovery+ on Xfinity Flex, providing Xfinity high-speed Internet-only subscribers direct access access to the non-fiction, real-life entertainment streaming service. Discovery+ will also begin rollout to cloud-based X1 streaming devices in the coming weeks.

Xfinity Flex is a 4K streaming device included with Xfinity Internet that extends features of X1 to consumers who only subscribe to Comcast’s broadband service. The platform features an integrated guide to all of their favorite streaming video and music apps, as well as a TV interface to manage their Xfinity Wi-Fi, mobile, security and automation services.

“The launch of Discovery+ on Xfinity Flex, and very soon on X1, gives our customers access to more of the best entertainment from one of the newest streaming services on the market,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

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Discovery+ ($4.99 monthly; $6.99 without ads) offers more than 55,000 episodes of current and classic shows from HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the forthcoming Magnolia Network, as well as more than 50 original titles and hundreds of hours of exclusive content. The service also offers reality-based content from A&E, History and Lifetime, as well as the definitive offering of nature and environmental programming, headlined by natural history from the BBC.

 

Flex today and X1 will also have direct-to-consumer apps, Food Network Kitchen and MotorTrend. Food Network Kitchen is a subscription-based service that gives customers access to thousands of recipes and instructional videos; live and on-demand cooking classes with culinary experts and fan-favorite personalities; and inspiration for quick and easy meals. The MotorTrend app provides Comcast subs with thousands of hours of automotive entertainment.

MLB.tv Launches on Comcast Xfinity Flex Devices

With the April 1 start of the Major League Baseball season just around the corner, Comcast March 23 announced that its Xfinity broadband subscribers with a Flex device can now access MLB games on the league’s proprietary MLB.tv subscription streaming app. A separate subscription is required to access every out-of-market game. In 2020, MLB.tv cost $121.99 for a season of coverage.

Comcast’s 3 million Flex subs also have access to MLB.tv’s expanded library of programming with a full range of features, documentaries and classic games from MLB and MLB Network.

Existing MLB.tv subs can say “MLB app” into their Xfinity voice remote to launch the app and log-in to their subscription. New customers can subscribe to any one of MLB.tv’s three packages on www.mlb.com/flex.

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Xfinity Flex is a 4K streaming device included with Xfinity high-speed Internet service that extends the features of the X1 set-top box for streamers, giving them an integrated guide and voice remote to access their entertainment, including a growing collection of live sporting events.

Vudu Launches on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex

Vudu, a transactional VOD service owned by Fandango, has launched on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex.

To access Vudu over the Internet on X1 and Flex, Xfinity customers can say “Vudu” into the Xfinity Voice Remote.

“Fandango has worked with Xfinity for many years, and we are thrilled to add Vudu’s comprehensive movie and TV offerings to X1 and Flex,” said Mark Young, Fandango SVP, global strategy, business and corporate development, in a statement. “Vudu’s vast library of premium content will now be available to millions of X1 and Flex fans, giving them more ways to enjoy the best entertainment through Xfinity.”

Vudu offers more than 150,000 titles to rent or buy, including new releases, and thousands of titles for free. Serving millions daily, Vudu offers users the ability to create custom lists from their movie and TV library, purchase exclusive “Mix & Match” bundles, access digital copies of their physical films and more. Vudu also features 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and Dolby Atmos Cinema Sound.

Titles new to Vudu this month include The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and Golden Globe winners Minari, The Mauritanian and Pixar’s Soul.

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Vudu has also recently launched on platforms including PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S, along with extensive distribution on dozens of connected television devices and streaming platforms from Roku, LG, Sony and others.

Spotify Launches on Comcast’s Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex

Comcast June 22 announced that Spotify is now available to stream on cloud-based Xfinity platform, affording subscribers the ability to listen to the audio streaming service’s 50 million music tracks and podcasts directly on the TV.

Broadband-based Xfinity Flex subs can access Spotify with their Xfinity Voice Remote. Spotify will begin rolling out to X1 subs today over the Internet, and be available to all subs in the coming days, alongside all of the live, on demand, and streaming content.

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Comcast said it has seen double-digit growth in streaming music consumption this year versus the same time last year. Spotify is seeing the same trends from their end — the increase in working from home is showing that more users are now streaming music on their TVs.

“Music streaming on Xfinity X1 and Flex is at an all-time high and … alongside the growing catalog of entertainment already available on these platforms, adds even more great value to their Xfinity service,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

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New Spotify subs will be able to create an account directly on the device and immediately have access to the free, ad-supported version of the service. Spotify joins other music and listening streaming services already available on X1 and Flex, including Pandora, Amazon Music, Radio.com, iHeartRadio, XITE, NPR One, Music Choice, Stingray Music and Baeble.

Hulu Launching on Comcast Xfinity Flex and X1

Comcast’s Xfinity Flex customers can stream Hulu using the Hulu app on their Flex devices, according to the streaming company.

Xfinity Flex customers new to Hulu will also be able to customize their viewing experience with Hulu features such as Taste Picker and Like and Dislike buttons as well as stay up to date with their favorite shows and movies by adding them to My Stuff.

Current Hulu subscribers can sign in with their Hulu login through the Hulu app on Flex. Flex users new to Hulu can sign up here. Once they have their log-in credentials, they can access Hulu through the app on Flex.

Hulu will also roll out on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 platform within the coming weeks.

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Comcast’s Flex Platform Adds Hulu, CBS All Access, Starz

Comcast’s Xfinity Flex is a free (i.e. ad-supported) platform and set-top device that affords broadband-only subscribers access to premium content, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, HBO, Showtime and more than 10,000 movies on demand.

Flex was launched to counter ongoing declines in linear pay-TV as consumers migrate to over-the-top video, which requires broadband connectivity. Comcast is one of the largest ISPs in the country, adding around 1.4 million broadband subscribers in 2019.

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While much of the media attention revolves around the cloud-based Xfinity X1 set-top and the April 15 launch of NBCUniversal’s subscription streaming video service Peacock, Flex has quietly gained momentum, according to Comcast Corp. chairman Brian Roberts.

Speaking this week at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Roberts said Flex enables the company to secure cord-cutters migrating to third-party services.

“Half of all our sales last year, give or take, were broadband only,” Roberts said. “So we want to give them a road map to consume video, to have lower churn, to have higher advertising and, ultimately, have a better experience with our company and perhaps buy X1 and more video products.”

The concept quickly gained traction, forcing Comcast to scale back Flex as it ran out of Xfinity set-top devices (similar to Roku devices) last fall. The platform just added additional content options, including CBS All Access, Starz and Hulu, which Comcast last year sold its 30% stake in to Disney for a reported $5.8 billion.

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Flex will also feature Peacock and about 100 other third-party apps. Roberts said it costs Comcast about $50 per Flex sub, which the executive considers a long-term investment.

“They now have our X1 [device] or any service we might dream up in the next 50 years,” he said. “It’s early days, but I can tell you, we put out more Flexes than we’ve lost video [subs],” he said.

 

Roku CEO Takes Credit for Disney Reaching 26.5 Million Streaming Subs

Disney said it generated 10 million Disney+ subscribers in the first 24 hours of launching — largely through its app. How it reached 26.5 million subs just six weeks later, well, Roku would like to take some credit for that milestone.

Speaking on a Feb. 13 earnings call, Roku founder/CEO Anthony Wood told analysts that with the company’s signature streaming media device ranked No. 1 (by Parks Associates) in the domestic market, having access to the Disney+ app on its platform help jump start subscriptions.

“One of the things Disney did, is they really lean into the tools that we have available on our platform,” Wood said. “And when companies do that, I mean, we’ve built a lot of great ways to sign up subscribers. So, I think we were an important part of them reaching that milestone.”

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Wood, who contends half of all domestic pay-TV subs will cut the cord by 2024, doesn’t see linear TV distributors such as Comcast entering the over-the-top video market as a threat.

“We have the Xfinity app on Roku,” he said. “And I have it on my Roku, and that’s what I use to watch TV sometimes. [But] we just don’t see competing with traditional cable distributors, it’s a big part of our [OTT] competitive dynamic.”

Wood said the pending rollout of the Peacock streaming service by NBC Universal would likely give Roku an additional third-party app to market — although no official agreement has been reached.

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Roku monetizes its platform on a revenue-sharing basis for third-party SVOD services and splits ad-revenue for AVOD platforms. The company said it made $23.14 per user in 2019 — up $5.19 per user in 2018.

“We’re an essential partner for any streaming services trying to build a national audience in United States,” he said. “So, I think it would be natural to assume that there will be some sort of [Peacock] deal down the road.”