The two streaming services will be part of the main user interface for X1 TV customers as well as on the Flex broadband video package.
As streaming has matured in recent years, Comcast has adopted a friendlier stance to third-party programmers compared with many operators. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video have all been integrated into Xfinity platforms. More recent entrants like HBO Max and the company’s own Peacock streaming service have also joined the fold. The strategy holds that reducing friction in customers’ experience will keep them more engaged with Xfinity and Flex, boosting results for Comcast at a time of intensifying cord-shaving and cord-cutting.
Disney+ will roll out in the coming days, while ESPN+ is available now on Flex and will come to X1 in the coming weeks. Disney said earlier this month that Disney+ has surpassed 100 million global subscribers. ESPN+ reported 12.1 million at the end of 2020.
Comcast is the No. 1 U.S. cable operator, with X1 accounting for about two-thirds of its 19 million residential video customers. Flex, which is given free to Comcast broadband subscribers, now has more than 3 million set-top boxes in use, the company said earlier this year.
“With the launch of Disney+ and ESPN+, our X1 and Flex customers will now be able to enjoy all the best entertainment from today’s most popular streaming services on one device that makes it easy for them to find their favorite programming, or discover something new,” said Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable.
Michael Paull, president of Disney+ and ESPN+, said the Comcast initiative comes at an “opportune time” for the company. Disney+ has just debuted The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. ESPN+ in April will have Masters golf, Major League Baseball, UFC matches and more.