Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson said offering the company’s broadband-only Xfinity Flex product outside of its coverage footprint to other operators and even as a standalone service are all options that are being explored.
Comcast launched Xfinity Flex about two years ago originally as a $5 per month service that gave broadband customers access to more than 10,000 free movies and TV shows as well as access to subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others through a small Roku-like digital box. The service became a free add-on to broadband-only service a few months later and has grown quickly. During its Q1 conference call with analysts, Comcast said in March that it had about 3 million Xfinity Flex customers across its footprint.
At the MoffettNathanson Virtual Media & Communications Summit conference Wednesday, Watson said that Flex has about 3.5 million Flex customers and added the company continues to explore its options for the service, including licensing the product to other distributors or offering it as a standalone product out of footprint. Comcast already licenses Flex to Cox Communications and Canadian operators Shaw Communications, Rogers Communications and Videotron.
“It’s potentially all of the above,” Watson said at the conference. “We do today, we have great partners like Cox, Canadian operators, and we continue to expand the relationship with them; giving them a roadmap toward Flex capabilities is absolutely something we’re very focused on. That’s one path. If you think about Flex today, we deliver it to the customer through a very small advanced device -- our XFi devices that are 4K-capable. But over time, it’s essentially a software solution. We’re looking at and testing and talking to potential partners down the road, that you’re focusing on smart TVs and having a position. Others have done it. It’s absolutely doable to figure out how to get an advanced software stack into a Smart TV. And then, you talk to retailers, other partners, it is possible to go beyond the footprint. We’ll take a look at how things evolve, but we want to be in position and that is a great opportunity either with ourselves, other partners, we’ll see.”
Watson added that Flex has been a great business as well as a retention too for broadband service. At the conference, Watson said about half of Flex customers engage with the service regularly, and the product has resulted in a 15% to 20% improvement in overall broadband churn. Flex also generates revenue for Comcast, which also could grow substantially .
Watson estimated that Flex generates about $2 per month, per active user account from pay-per-view, video on demand and revenue shares from streaming apps on the service. It doesn’t account for any advertising, which the company said has additional revenue potential.
“We’re very focused on that too,” Watson said. “Our team, our advanced technology team at Effectv and Freewheel are extremely focused on helping us deploy capabilities of advanced advertising through Flex. We think that will be additive to it over time. But we’re pleased with the early start, $2 of revenue per account.”
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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