Comcast said Wednesday that it will offer a free streaming box to internet-only customers, targeting consumers who have ditched traditional pay-TV for online video streaming.
The device, called Xfinity Flex, will allow customers to access their subscriptions for services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as 10,000 free movies and shows, including live TV from ESPN3 and other networks.
Comcast launched the device in March and previously charged customers $5 a month for the 4K HDR streaming box and voice remote. Under the new offer, broadband customers can receive one box for free and lease another for $5 a month.
Comcast said that it was unaware of any competitors giving away 4K streaming devices, and that its research showed that most cord cutters have just one television.
The move comes at a time when the Philadelphia-based company is bleeding hundreds of thousands of TV subscribers every quarter. In the second quarter, Comcast lost 224,000 Xfinity TV subscribers, but added 209,000 new Xfinity Internet subscribers.
Xfinity Flex is similar to Comcast’s X1 video platform for cable subscribers. It aggregates streaming services that customers pay for, such as HBO and Showtime, and free ad-supported live TV services, such as Cheddar and Pluto TV. Consumers can also rent or purchase movies through the service and listen to music on such applications as Pandora. In addition, customers can use Flex to manage their connected home devices on their TV.
A Roku Streaming Stick has similar capabilities, letting consumers access streaming services on one platform.
Comcast announced the free streaming box offer a day after it unveiled the name for its streaming service, called Peacock, which will launch in April 2020 and will carry NBC programming.
Facebook also got into the streaming game Wednesday, announcing its own set-top box called Portal TV. Both Comcast and Facebook are late entrants into the streaming business, which has been dominated by such companies as Netflix and Hulu.