Comcast has opened access to Apple TV+, Apple's premium subscription streaming service, in the US, and acknowledged that it's the first app to take full advantage of the operator's relatively new global technology platform.
Today's launch extends Apple TV+ to X1, Comcast's marquee pay-TV service; Xfinity Flex, Comcast's free streaming/smart home platform for broadband-only customers; and XClass TV, a new family of smart TVs now being sold nationwide through a partnership with Walmart.
To help prime the pump, Apple said it will offer Comcast subs a preview of its most popular original series and films on X1, Flex and its Stream app without the need to sign up or sign in. Additionally, Comcast customers who are not currently Apple TV+ subscribers are also eligible for a three-month free trial of Apple TV+ when they sign up via a Comcast device by April 25. Financial terms of the arrangement, including whether Comcast is getting a cut of subscription fees when Apple TV+ subs come through the operator's door, were not announced.
UK-based Sky launched Apple TV+, the home to original series such as Ted Lasso and The Morning Show, on Sky Q boxes and recently launched Sky Glass TVs in the UK and other parts of Europe in December 2021.
'One technology front door'
The use of Comcast's common set of development tools and overarching global technology platform provides "one technology front door" across Comcast's customer base and about 50 million devices, Brian Roberts, Comcast's chairman and CEO, said today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
"We see ourselves as aggregator. We see a way to help navigate an unending stream of new complexity that's coming to your home and to your life," Roberts added. "That's a differentiating factor. Hopefully, we'll be able to offer that technology even more broadly throughout the world over time and continue to be an innovation engine where people want to work and where people want to consume our products."
Comcast's global technology platform emerges as the company aims to become a key player in a streaming platform market led by Roku, Amazon (Fire TV) and Google (Android TV, Chromecast), as well as a handful of TV makers, including Samsung (Tizen), LG Electronics (webOS) and Vizio. It's also emerging as Comcast establishes streaming and content aggregation as two of three "core tenets" of its business (broadband is the other).
Comcast's Apple TV+ launches stem from a streaming deal announced in October 2021 that covered multiple applications and multiple platforms in Europe. The deal also clears the way for Comcast to offer its Xfinity Stream app and the Sky Go app on Apple TV devices. Light Reading has asked Comcast and Apple when that piece of the agreement will be executed.
Update: Regarding US distribution, Comcast said it is tracking to launch its Stream app on Apple TV devices later this year.
The addition of Apple TV+ also rounds out the access to popular streaming apps Comcast is offering on its various platforms. In the US, that list also includes Netflix, Hulu, NBCU's Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, HBO Max and Paramount+, among others.
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- Comcast unleashes global streaming box, the XiOne
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading