Comcast and Amazon today announced a new partnership that will see Amazon’s Prime Video service integrated into Comcast’s Xfinity TV set-top boxes. This is the first time that Prime Video content would be added to a cable operator’s platform in the U.S. It’s also a particularly interesting choice on Comcast’s part, given that Amazon is directly competing with pay TV providers through its Prime Video Channels a la carte TV subscriptions. And these will be available to Comcast’s customers via the Xfinity X1 set-top box as a result of this deal.
Today, Amazon offers over 160 premium Prime Video channels, including HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax and others that have been previously sold as add-ons to cable TV subscriptions. Being able to access to these channels over-the-top – without a traditional TV subscription – is one of several factors that have convinced some consumers to cut the cord with cable TV entirely.
In other words, Comcast is really embracing the enemy here.
Of course, Prime Video Channels aren’t all that Prime Video offers. Members can also stream from Amazon’s library of TV shows and movies that come with a Prime subscription, as well as watch Amazon’s original programming, including shows like “Goliath,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Man in the High Castle,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and soon, the recently rescued “The Expanse,” among others.
Plus, Prime Video features live events at times, and offers series and movies for rent or purchase.
“Amazon Prime Video’s growing list of originals, movies, shows, documentaries, and kids’ programming will be an excellent complement to the overall X1 viewing experience,” said Dana Strong, Comcast’s President of Consumer Services, in a statement. “We want to give customers easy access to all their favorite content in one place. X1 continues to be a platform that can curate live TV, On Demand movies and shows, and streaming internet video and music titles into one, easy-to-use, seamless experience.”
This isn’t the first streaming service Comcast has worked with. The company has been offering access to Netflix through its X1 interface since 2016, and this April expanded its relationship with Netflix by bundling it into Comcast subscriptions. It also provides access to Google’s YouTube.
Despite Comcast’s willingness to work with the very services that are causing cable TV companies to lose customers, some reports claim these moves are akin to shoving a finger in the hole of a dam – the flood (of cord cutters, that is) is still coming. In fact eMarketer recently noted that the number of U.S. cord cutters will reach 33 million this year, which is faster than expected.
And it specifically said that partnerships between traditional TV providers and over-the-top services – like the one between Comcast and Netflix – hasn’t seemed to have had any impact on the pace of cord cutting.
“These partnerships are still in the early stages, so we don’t foresee them having a significant impact reducing churn this year,” said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Christopher Bendtsen, at the time of the July report. “With more pay TV and [over-the-top] partnerships expected in the future, combined with other strategies, providers could eventually slow—but not stop—the losses,” he noted.
Comcast didn’t announce an exact launch date for the Prime Video integration, only saying that it would be available to X1 customers “later this year.”
UPDATE, 12/5/2018: Comcast announced today Prime Video would roll out to Xfinity X1 boxes over the next week as an app.