Published: Sun, March 24, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

You dumped cable? Comcast hopes to reel you back in

You dumped cable? Comcast hopes to reel you back in

The service, to launch next week for United States dollars 5 per month, brings together a number of subscription streaming services, free content, and voice control to manage all connected devices in the home, all from one platform. Flex is only available for Comcast internet users. CNBC originally reported that such a product was coming back in November. The price is $5 per month and the subscription will give you access to more than 10,000 videos (TV shows and movies), as well as live TV from ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto, Tubi TV, Cheddar, and YouTube.

Speaking of Android TV, while Comcast didn't say in its announcement that this is an Android TV box, the screenshots sort of look like it might be a customized version, just like AT&T is shipping to some DIRECTV Now customers.

While Flex is an interesting concept, it's nothing like the streaming set-top boxes we've grown used to with Apple TV, Roku, or Fire TV.

The Flex hardware box is 4K and HDR-compatible.

As well, the device enables Comcast customers to see their WiFi password, set up parental controls, pause WiFi access, and view which devices are now running on the home network. The Xfinity Flex box features an integrated guide and voice control, enabling customers to easily browse and access programming across apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and Showtime, rent and purchase movies and shows from the digital store, access their digital lockers across platforms by pairing their account with Movies Anywhere, or listen to music from Pandora, iHeartRadio, and XITE.

"It's really one click to subscribe, and you're watching HBO", Matt Strauss, Comcast Cable's executive VP of Xfinity Services, said Thursday at a press event announcing the new Flex offering. They can opt for either one or two Flex boxes.

Comcast unveils $5-a-month cable-like streaming service Xfinity Flex

Again, Infinity Flex launches next week to customers across the country.

What's the point of all this? Comcast doesn't offer those with Flex because it hopes that users interested in live TV will upgrade to a Comcast bundle instead.

But the platform, which will be available starting next week, is created to be more than just a video service.

Strauss said pricing for Flex could change in the future as Comcast experiments with different pricing tiers and packages. As is, this strikes me as a hard sell at $60 / year when a Roku will cost you less money and isn't a recurring rental.

Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge's parent company.

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