Comcast has continued to grow the user base for Flex—its video platform and streaming device for broadband-only customers—within its service footprint.
Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson spoke this morning at a MoffettNathanson investor conference and said that the company now has 3.5 million Flex devices deployed. About half of those customers are regular active users of the platform.
The platform is producing incremental value for Comcast in different ways. Watson said that Flex has contributed 15-20% churn improvement among Comcast broadband subscribers and that the company is bringing in about $2 of average revenue per account from active users of Flex. He clarified that the current ARPU figure is only coming from pay-per-view, video on demand and revenue sharing with third-party streaming apps on the platform. It does not account for any advertising revenue.
“Our advanced ad team at Effectv and FreeWheel is extremely focused on helping us deploy advanced advertising capabilities through Flex and we think that will be additive to it over time,” he said.
For now, Comcast is still largely focused on expanding Flex within its cable footprint but Watson reaffirmed his company’s belief that the platform has potential outside of the footprint as well. Comcast currently licenses Flex as a hardware/software solution to MSO partners like Cox and now it’s talking to potential partners about licensing just the software for smart TVs.
“Others have done it and it’s absolutely doable to figure out how to get an advanced software stack into a smart TV,” Watson said. “And then you talk to great retailers and other partners, and it is possible to go beyond the footprint.”
Last year, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts verified earlier reports that his company is interested in putting the Flex platform on smart TVs. In November, Comcast was tied to reports that Walmart was pursuing a deal where it would promote smart TVs running Flex in exchange for a share of the recurring revenue. A third-party manufacturer could end up making the TVs, which could carry Walmart’s Onn branding.
“We’re early days but we’re looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we’re wondering if we can bring our same tech stack and certain capabilities in aggregation to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs,” Roberts said.