Comcast's 'freebie' move to catch-up in streaming race

The streaming wars are on and with Disney, CBS, Netflix, Amazon and others already in the game, the new NBC service, Peacock from parent company Comcast is coming late to the party but the cable TV giant is making sure the Peacock isn't a dead duck when it debuts in April 2020.

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Comcast has decided to give its internet-only subscribers a free streaming box, helping the company control their TV-viewing experience even without having them pay for cable.

The streaming box is called Xfinity Flex, and it was introduced in March with a cost of $5 per month.

“Why would you pay a recurring fee of $60 every year when I could buy a box with more functionality,” said Dan Rayburn, longtime streaming analyst and the executive vice president of StreamingMedia.com. “I don’t get it. They’re hoping that there’s internet-only customers out there that don’t already have a Roku, an Amazon, an Apple, a Chrome Cast, a PlayStation, Xbox, I don’t really understand that. Honestly, those boxes are sold a ton.

“I don’t know of anybody who has an internet-only service and goes, ‘but I have no way to stream anything because I have no box and I have no smart TV. Doesn’t everybody have one a smart TV or one streaming box in their house?”

The NBC streaming service, Peacock, is supposed to launch with a huge back catalog, including "The Office" and "Parks & Recreation," which have been on Netflix, as well as new series, including reboots of "Saved by the Bell," and "Punky Brewster" as well as a highly-anticipated reboot of "Battlestar Galactica" from "Mr. Robot" creator Sam Esmail.

Comcast reportedly will charge around $10 per month for Peacock, but Rayburn does not see this having much impact in terms of appeal. “You’re basically paying to rent a box from Comcast that has their guide on it, and yeah, you can buy movies and TV shows through it, but why would you do that through Comcast. Why wouldn’t you do that through iTunes or Google Store? Why wouldn’t you use a streaming subscription service?" asked Rayburn.

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