Comcast to Stream Tokyo Summer Olympics Beyond Peacock Platform

Comcast July 13 announced plans to deliver the Olympic viewing experience beyond the Peacock streaming platform, and include Xfinity subscribers on X1, Flex and the Xfinity Stream app. And for the first time, Comcast will offer the Games live in 4K UHD with Dolby Atmos sound.

As the country prepares for the start of the pandemic-delayed Games that will be void of any spectators due to Delta variant concerns, Comcast is rolling out new features on Xfinity X1, Xfinity Stream and, for the first time, Xfinity Flex, to bring compelling Olympic stories to more viewers here in the U.S.

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“This year, new features make navigating the Games even easier and more personalized, taking the Olympics experience to a new level,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment services for Comcast Cable, said in a statement. “And now with Flex, we have the opportunity to leverage some of the best features of X1, like our voice remote and aggregated guide, to introduce the Olympics and all its passion, exhilaration and glory to even more Xfinity customers.”

“Comcast’s work elevating the Olympics viewing experience has set a new industry standard for how we bring consumers the live events they care about deeply,” added Mac Budill, president of networks distribution for NBCUniversal. “We know these capabilities mean more engagement, personalization and time spent with arguably the most anticipated sporting event of our lifetime.”

On Xfinity Flex, Comcast will offer streamers a X1-like Olympics destination that brings all the Olympics-related programming available to stream on the platform into one integrated experience easily accessible by saying “Olympics” into the Xfinity Voice Remote.

Anchoring the destination will be all of Peacock’s live and on-demand programming that’s offered free to all Flex customers, including six themed channels; four live-studio shows; live coverage of gymnastics, track & field and the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team, hundreds of short-form highlights and trending news clips; and several original docuseries and documentaries. Peacock’s programming will be curated alongside other Olympic-related programming from streaming services such as YouTube, HBO Max, Prime Video and more.

Flex customers wanting to experience more of the Games can quickly and easily upgrade to Xfinity TV via the Stream app so they can access NBC’s live coverage, including the Opening Ceremony and nightly Primetime Show, Telemundo and special access to Olympic Channel and Universo directly on their Flex device.

Comcast’s X1 set-top box will once again offer Xfinity TV customers the premiere Olympics viewing experience, offering aggregated, curated and personalized access to all 7,000 hours of NBCUniversal’s live, on demand, and streaming coverage of the Games — all in one place — on the TV and across mobile devices with the Xfinity Stream app.

Saying “Olympics” into the Xfinity Voice Remote will take customers to the Olympics destination, while special voice commands for athletes, sports, teams and featured nations will allow customers to get to their favorite Olympics content quickly.

X1 features include the first-ever fully-personalized experience across devices. With X1’s new personalization capabilities, customers can choose their favorite sports in just a few clicks to customize their Olympics destination, making it easier to find the live coverage they care about most alongside highlights of each chosen sport curated into their own personalized playlist. Any favorited sports will carry over to the Xfinity Stream app, so customers will see the same personalized experience when accessing the Games on the go.

  • Notifications for must-see moments. Customers will also have the option to receive notifications for their favorite sports and get live tune-in alerts for major moments and quick links to trending highlights directly on their TV and/or mobile device.
  • 100 editorially-curated playlists. Curated and updated in real-time by Xfinity sports editors with trending videos and breaking news, each playlist enables customers to lean in to choose the highlights they want to see or lean back and watch the stories of the Games unfold. The editors will
    create dedicated playlists for each Olympic sport, unique playlists for 30+ of the most-popular athletes, and more than a dozen themed playlists, such as “Gold Medal Moments,” “Best of Team USA,” “Record-Breakers,” “Epic Celebrations” and more.
  • The Olympics will be shown available live in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos immersive audio, and X1 will offer customers full access. And for the first time, X1 customers with compatible devices will be able to experience all HDR coverage in Dolby Vision HDR. Live coverage will be available in most markets and include every night of the NBC primetime show, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, along with popular sports like gymnastics, track & field, swimming, diving, beach volleyball, golf, and tennis.
  • Sport, Athlete, and Nation pages. Every sport, top athlete and major nation will have their own voice-enabled X1 destination, blending live, on demand and short form programming so that customers can stay up to date on the sports, personalities and teams they care about most. Each page will be refreshed and updated daily and showcase programming that’s airing now, upcoming coverage, and the best highlights and replays.
  • Spanish-language coverage and specialized experience. X1 and Stream will bring NBCUniversal’s 300 hours of Spanish-language coverage to customers at home or on the go, and special in-language voice commands, such as “Olimpiadas,” “natacion” and “medallero,” will help
    customers navigate the Games in Spanish.
  • Audio Description enabled for key Olympic moments. Audio description will be enabled on the Olympics primetime show and Opening and Closing ceremonies (including the 4K version) so visually impaired customers can enjoy the excitement of the Games with their friends and family.

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.

HBO Max App Comes to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex

WarnerMedia and Comcast Cable Dec. 15 announced the rollout of the HBO Max app on cloud-based Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex platforms, providing Xfinity subscribers with direct access to Max’s full portfolio of original series and programming.

X1 and Flex customers will be able to access the Max app over the Internet by saying “HBO Max” into the Xfinity Voice Remote or, for example, by saying the name of a desired title (like, “The Flight Attendant”). Xfinity subs will also be able to find Max content library integrated throughout the X1 and Flex, including in current and evergreen collections such as “Best of 2020,” “Kids and Family,” “Black Film & TV” and more.

The launch on Xfinity comes ahead of the feature film release Wonder Woman 1984 starring Gal Gadot debuting on Max and in theaters on Christmas Day. Wonder Woman 1984 will be available in 4K Ultra HD, HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to Xfinity customers on supported X1 and Flex devices.

“Since launching HBO Max, our teams have worked closely to deliver a Max experience that would provide more frictionless access to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers,” Jennifer Mirgorod, head of sales and account management, WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement.

Cloud-based X1 provides subs with a comprehensive library of entertainment on one platform with thousands of choices — aggregating live TV, on-demand content, and third-party streaming apps from a collection of networks and streaming services. Xfinity Flex is a 4K streaming device included with Xfinity Internet that extends features of X1 to customers who only subscribe to Comcast’s high-speed Internet.

In addition to the release of Wonder Woman 1984, subs will have access to a wide array of programming debuting on Max this month, including the exclusive holiday special My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood, a new “Euphoria” special episode starring Emmy-winning actress Zendaya, Steven Soderbergh’s new comedy film Let Them All Talk, the third season of “Summer Camp Island,” and four-part docuseries “Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults.” Top films like The Shawshank Redemption, The Photograph, Sex and the City, Sex and the City 2, Gladiator, Meet Me in St. Louis and Demolition Man also premiere this month.

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January will bring the second “Euphoria” special episode, “Search Party” season four, a new season of “Selena + Chef,” the entire “Gossip Girl” library, season one of “Snowpiercer,” The Alienist: Angel of Darkness and The King of Staten Island. Additionally, as previously announced, each film in Warner Bros. Picture Group’s 2021 slate will debut on HBO Max in the U.S. concurrently with its theatrical release and will be available to stream exclusively for one month.

“The addition of the Max app is another example of how we make it easier for customers to find their favorite live, on demand or streamed entertainment,” said Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment in Comcast Cable.

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.

Comcast Launches Virtual TV Summer Camp for Kids

Comcast Cable’s Xfinity TV July 13 launched “Camp Tonsafun,” a free virtual TV camp hosted by “counselors” from NBCUniversal, which include TV show and movie personalities and production personnel.

More than 14 million children and adults attend camp in the U.S. every summer, according to the American Camp Association, and “Camp Tonsafun” is intended to be a resource for Xfinity subscribers who may be impacted by the closure of many programs this summer due to COVID-19.

Available on Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex, the camp features video lessons and activities spanning arts, sports, cooking, experiments and adventures geared toward children ages 5 to 12. Campers can participate using items that they likely already have at home.

Jade Catta-Preta, the new host of E!’s “The Soup,” is the camp director, kicking off the series of weekly video lessons and activities. They include: “Learn to Animate a Minion” with Illumination and Brad Ableson, co-director of Minions: The Rise of Gru; “Be a Smart Ninja” with Jessie Graff from “American Ninja Warrior,” “Prank Your Friends and Family” with Scott Tweedie from E! News; “Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life” with Jurassic World themed magic tricks; “Build a Home Obstacle Course” with Nate Burkhalter from “Exatlón Estados Unidos,” and “Throw a Tie-Dye Party” with Dina Cerchione, stylist for Howie Mandel (“America’s Got Talent”), and “Deal or No Deal.”

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Other activities include: “Learn Basketball Drills” by Trevon Jenifer from Team USA; “Make an Out-Of-This-World Milkshake” with Chef Chris from Universal Parks & Resorts; “Play Hallway Mini Golf” with Martin Chuck, GolfPass instructor; “Be a Pancake Time Traveler” with Chef Milo from Universal Kids; “Learn How to Make A Magnificent Mango Dessert” with Carmen Aub, actress from “El Señor de los Cielos.”

In addition to Camp Tonsafun, Xfinity X1 subs can enjoy Xfinity’s Summer Guide, which spans more than 2,000 hours of seasonal entertainment curated by its team of TV editors into fun and interactive editorial collections.

They include: “For the Family” featuring recommendations for a game or movie night; “Virtual Vacations” that enable customers to travel to popular cities around the globe or even adventure to Universal Studios Orlando without leaving home; “Summer Blockbusters” highlighting the most buzzworthy flicks of the season; “Summer Reading List” highlighting TV shows and movies based on books; “Festival from Home” highlighting virtual concerts and past music festivals; “Summer TV Preview” featuring the most anticipated shows and their premiere dates; “What We’re Watching This Summer” compiling picks from each of the Xfinity TV editors and their new and latest exclusive ‘Xfinity Hangouts at Home’ interviews with The King of Staten Island’s Judd Apatow, Scoob!’s Will Forte and Ken Jeong, Da 5 Bloods cast, including Spike Lee.

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.

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.

Comcast Expanding Retail Footprint

Comcast Jan. 27 said it plans to open six new Xfinity branded stores in the St. Paul, Minn., area by the end of 2020. The nearly $1.5 million investment will place stores in Coon Rapids, Brooklyn Center, Maple Grove, Blaine, Vadnais Heights and West St. Paul.

The strategy is aimed at connecting customers at the retail level with a cable TV operator that increasingly is focused on branded over-the-top video and high-speed Internet service — including xFi, Xfinity Mobile, Peacock and Flex.

“These stores are designed to give customers an awesome experience,” J.D. Keller, regional SVP of the Comcast Twin Cities Region, said in a statement. “They are all about providing the best possible service to our customers, as well as giving all consumers a chance to explore our Xfinity products and services firsthand and check out our latest technology in an interactive environment.”

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Comcast recently opened the Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Center Xfinity Stores with the remaining locations scheduled to open later in the year.

The stores range in size from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet and will be staffed by technology specialists who can help customers get the most value from their products, including personalization, managing and controlling home WiFi experience with Xfinity xFi, amopng other features.

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Retail customers can also upgrade or swap equipment, ask questions about their Xfinity service or pay a bill. Comcast has built or redesigned more than 400 new stores since 2015.

NBC Universal Holding Peacock Investor Event Jan. 16

Comcast subsidiary NBC Universal is set to unveil on Jan. 16 further details about its branded Peacock subscription streaming video service in a special investor event at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Longtime Comcast executive Matthew Strauss and other senior executives are expected to shed additional light on the service the media company heretofore has been tight-lipped about. Indeed, the price points for Peacock (reported to be $9.99 and $4.99 for an ad-supported option) remain officially unknown.

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The SVOD service is a big step for Comcast, which heretofore has eschewed streaming video for traditional pay-TV and on-demand programming. The cable giant in 2016 embraced Netflix and YouTube in efforts to keep Xfinity subscribers in the fold.  In 2018, it added Netflix to Xfinity cable bundles.

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With Apple and Disney launching competing services last year, and WarnerMedia bowing HBO Max in May, the SVOD market has quickly expanded beyond Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, including jumpstarting an ad-supported VOD market.

Comcast has hinted at offering Peacock for free to Xfinity subs, but no official word whether that will indeed be an option.