Comcast, Netflix Reach Xfinity Bundling Agreement
Those who subscribe to Comcast Xfinity video services are about to get a little bonus through an expansion of a deal between the giant U.S. cable multi-system operator and the ubiquitous over-the-top streaming service Netflix.
On Friday, Comcast and Netflix revealed a new agreement giving Comcast the ability to include a Netflix subscription in Xfinity cable TV packages. The bundle is expected to begin to roll out to new and existing Xfinity TV customers this month. Pricing was not disclosed, and is likely to vary from market to market.
Comcast said it will launch a variety of offers including a built-in Netflix subscription this month. Comcast will handle billing for Netflix in a single monthly cable bill.
Although Comcast and Netflix should seem to be at odds with one another in this age of cord-cutting, the deal signifies a recognition on Comcast’s part that Netflix is a must-have home entertainment service, not only to cord cutters, but to cable customers who follow Netflix’s ample selection of originally produced movies, documentaries and televisions series.
The Netflix App was first added to X1 boxes in 2016, when the OTT service’s subscription video on demand (SVOD) was integrated with the X1 search features including a connection to the X1 voice remote. Comcast said nearly 50% of its X1 customers are actively using Netflix on that platform.
Furthermore, user studies have found that Netflix is one of the most popular voice searches on the Xfinity cable X1 platform. The X1 platform, which is in 60% of Comcast video-user homes, enables seamless access to Netflix via voice control. In addition, X1 has become the most used platform for X1 customers with Netflix accounts.
Of course, streaming Netflix uses data capacity, and going over established limits for a plan could subject users to additional fees. So for households with a lot of Netflix viewing, it might pay to watch the number of hours streamed through the Netflix (or any Internet service) each month. According to the Xfinity web site, “usage of the Netflix app on X1 and all other programming and content from the Internet on X1, as well as the Internet apps on X1, are subject to Xfinity Internet data usage policies. It’s important to note, customers who use Netflix on a Smart TV or other device or PC, are also streaming over the Internet and would be subject to Xfinity Internet data usage policies.”
Xfinity offers various data usage plans, including unlimited plans, and in some areas a Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan. Under the 1 Terabyte Plan, Comcast gives subscribers a two-month grace period for the first two months a user exceeds a terabyte of data in a month, regardless of how much data is used during those two months. Users will be subject to overage charges for using more than a terabyte for a third time in a 12-month period. If more than a terabyte is used two times or less in a 12-month period, the courtesy month balance resets to two at the end of 12 months. However, when more than a terabyte is used three times in a 12-month period, no more courtesy months will be given. The 12-month period begins the first time a terabyte is exceeded.
When overage charges are approaching or coming into play, users are notified via an email and an in-browser notification that they have exceeded their data usage plan amount, and an additional block of 50 GB has automatically been allocated to the account. An extra $10 charge is then applied to the monthly bill. Users are automatically charged $10 each time an additional block of 50 GB of data is issued, with a limit capped at $200 per month.
Alternatively, Comcast’s web site says, “The Unlimited Data Option costs an additional $50 per calendar month depending on the plan and area. The fee is independent of actual data usage. The Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan will not apply to customers who enroll in the Unlimited Data Option.”
It continues: “For example, if you enroll in the Unlimited Data Option and use 1.5 terabytes in a given month, you will only be charged a fee of $50 for choosing to enroll in the Unlimited Data Option. If you do not enroll in the Unlimited Data Option, you would be on the 1 Terabyte Plan and therefore would be charged $100 for the additional 500 GB (ten blocks of additional 50 GB at $10 each) provided on top of the Terabyte Internet Data Usage Plan.”
So how much data does Netflix use? “Netflix estimates about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video,” Comcast’s web site states.
Using the 1 Terabyte Plan would represent “1000 hours of standard definition video streaming or 333 hours of HD video streaming of Netflix, or over 10 hours a day of HD streaming in any given month,” Comcast said, applying the Netflix usage formula.
Billing aside, “Netflix offers one of the most popular on demand services and is an important supplement to the content offering and value proposition of the X1 platform,” stated Sam Schwartz, Chief Business Development Officer, Comcast Cable. “Netflix is a great partner, and we are excited to offer its services to our customers in new ways that provide them with more choice, value and flexibility. The seamless integration of Netflix with the vast Xfinity entertainment library on X1 present a unique and comprehensive experience for customers.”
Comcast has integrated the Netflix service with the X1 user experience so that subscribers can easily browse and access the vast Netflix programming libraries, including selections in Ultra HD 4K and HDR. Now customers can more seamlessly tap Netflix or watch live local broadcast TV, popular cable channels and premium movie service channels without have to go into a media streamer, gaming console or on-board smart TV platform. As well, Netflix programming will appear in search and recommendations called up by the X1 platform.
“Our partnership with Comcast on Xfinity X1 has brought easy access to Netflix for our mutual customers,” said Bill Holmes, global head of business development for Netflix. “By speaking into or browsing with the X1 remote, millions of customers have found the perfect thing to watch on Netflix. We can’t wait to introduce more X1 customers to Netflix with Xfinity’s new packaged offers.”
By Greg Tarr
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