In its latest move to grow and retain lucrative broadband customers as its cable subscribers dwindle, Comcast is adding an app for Sling TV — the live-streaming service owned by pay-TV rival Dish Network — to its Xnfinity Flex boxes for broadband-only customers.
The move makes Sling TV the first virtual MVPD to launch on Flex.
Flex users can now sign up for any Sling package via the platform, although their billing will be through Sling, not Comcast.
Comcast first forged its seemingly unlikely alliance with satellite TV provider Dish a few years back.
Seeking to make its cloud-based X1 platform a one-stop entertainment hub and bridge between traditional and online content, Comcast announced a partnership with Sling for that platform in 2016, and added the Sling International app — which offers nearly 400 multicultural and multilingual channels — as an X1 option in 2018. When Flex was launched last year, it, too, offered the Sling International option.
Comcast has also added Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and NPR One and other options to X1 in recent years.
But as the traditional pay-TV customer prospect pool has continued to dwindle, Comcast has increased its focus on high-margin broadband.
Comcast’s cable video subscribers declined 1.6% in 2018 (down by 344,000) and 3.2% in 2019 (down 671,000)—and management has warned that losses are likely to accelerate this year.
Fourth-quarter 2019 cable subscription video revenue was down 1.2% to $5.5 billion, and down 1% to $22.3 billion for all of 2019.
Comcast is set to report Q1 2020 results on July 30.