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April 25, 2023
Xfinity Stream, Comcast's pay-TV app for mobile devices and select TV streaming boxes and connected TVs, has enhanced its lineup with more than 20 free, ad-supported television (FAST) channels, including several from corporate cousins Xumo Play, NBC and Sky.
It marks the first time the Xfinity Stream app has integrated a lineup of FAST channels alongside its traditional pay-TV channel lineup and video-on-demand (VoD) library. Comcast already integrates a blend of FAST channels and services on X1, its primary pay-TV platform, and Xfinity Flex, a streaming box the operator offers to broadband-only subscribers for no added cost.
But rather than limiting access to those FAST channels via the Stream app to Comcast's pay-TV subs, the operator's broadband customers can also access them through the Stream app without a separate pay-TV subscription.
Figure 1: Comcast's Xfinity Stream app has begun to integrate more than a dozen free, ad-supported streaming channels from Xumo Play, NBC and Sky.
(Source: Screencap of the Xfinity Stream app running on an Apple iPad)
Starting today, those FAST channels are available for no added cost on the Xfinity Stream app for iOS and Android mobile devices, Fire TV devices, web browsers and via casting to supported AirPlay and Chromecast devices. Support for additional platforms, including Xfinity Flex and Xumo-branded integrated TVs, is coming soon.
Casting support aside, the Xfinity Stream app is also supported on Roku streaming players and Roku TVs, Apple TV devices and connected TVs from Samsung and LG Electronics. The Xfinity Stream app exited a multi-year beta period last August.
The FAST channel lineup for the Xfinity Stream app includes NBC News NOW, Sky News and 19 channels from the Xumo Play service, including Xumo Westerns, Xumo Family, Xumo Sci-Fi Fantasy, Xumo Movies, Xumo Documentaries and Xumo Horror & Thriller, among others. Xumo Play, an app dedicated to FAST channels, is part of the Comcast-Charter Communications Xumo national streaming joint venture focused on platforms for connected TVs and standalone streaming devices.
The FAST channels launch "marks the latest evolution of the Xfinity Stream app, which is increasing content choices for video and non-video customers alike," Vito Forlenza, VP, entertainment apps at Comcast Cable, said in a statement. He noted that those FAST channels also complement "Free This Week," a year-long promo that features a sampling of free TV shows and movies that can be accessed via Comcast's X1, Flex and Xumo TV products.
Pay-TV and FAST fare are converging
Stitching FAST channels into pay-TV apps is becoming more commonplace. In February, Sling TV launched a new FAST service called 'Freestream' that initially featured more than 210 channels and more than 41,000 VoD titles. Sling TV makes Freestream available via its app to both pay-TV subscribers and non-subscribers.
Google made a FAST move of its own earlier this month. Google TV, its content aggregation streaming platform for the Android TV operating system, introduced a new "live TV experience" featuring more than 800 free channels.
Examples of others with individual FAST services or FAST aggregation platforms include The Roku Channel, Paramount Global's Pluto TV, Fox-owned Tubi, Freevee (Amazon) and TiVo+.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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