Comcast and Amazon have set a deal to launch Prime Video on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 platform in the first such integration of the streaming service into an MVPD’s offering.
The plan follows similar integrations of Netflix and YouTube on X1, giving the No. 1 U.S. cable distributor more digital options than its rivals. That is a noteworthy strategic stance as traditional TV bundle players try to diversify their offerings and respond to subscriber erosion, cord-shaving and the explosion of direct-to-consumer offerings.
Not only will Prime originals be available through the service, but Amazon’s burgeoning Video Channels service will open up an interesting new frontier in the historically cloistered environment of premium subscriptions. The digital platform hosts some 160 services, including Showtime and Starz, meaning it will effectively become a store within a store on X1. The bet by Comcast in creating that setup is that keeping customers within the Comcast cocoon and reducing friction when they want to sample Amazon content is better in the long run.
Officials declined to address whether any consideration in the deal acknowledges that alternate path to signing up via Comcast for subscriptions to premium networks, a paradigm that has existed for cable providers for decades.
When the integration is complete later this year, Comcast’s 22 million-plus X1 customers will be able to search Prime Video content using the X1 Voice Remote, as well watching programming in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.
“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, President of Consumer Services, Comcast. “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.”
Greg Hart, Vice President of Amazon Prime Video, said the integration “will make navigating between Prime Video and live TV easier than ever. We are excited for our Prime members to seamlessly find the shows and movies they love.”
Amazon’s potency as a subscription driver came up later in the day on the CBS quarterly earnings call. While the Comcast integration was not discussed, executives were asked about the results of All Access and Showtime being sold through Amazon.
“Amazon has been absolutely amazing in terms of growing our subs,” said CEO Les Moonves. “We really like what they’re doing. We get more from them than we do from any of our partners.”
Joseph Ianniello, COO of CS, put it in more essential terms. “Amazon changes business models,” he said.