Comcast struck a deal with Apple that will bring the Apple TV app, which includes access to the Apple TV Plus subscription service, to the cable giant’s Xfinity X1, Flex and XClass TV platforms, CEO Brian Roberts announced on the company’s Q3 earnings call.
In turn, under the pact, Comcast’s Xfinity Stream app (which provides access to its pay-TV service) and Sky Go app in the U.K. and Europe will be launching on Apple TV set-top boxes, Roberts said. A Comcast rep said the Apple TV app would launch on Comcast video platforms in “the coming months” but didn’t have specific dates.
“Our importance to the streaming universe will continue to grow,” Roberts said on the call. “Certainly the Apple announcement today is another iteration of that.”
For Apple, the pact extends the video app’s reach to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 customers and broadband subs who use the Flex set-top to access over-the-top video. The Apple TV app also will alight on Sky Glass TVs in the U.K., the XiOne wireless streaming device, and Comcast’s new XClass TV line of smart televisions for the U.S. market, which for the first time extends Comcast’s streaming-entertainment platform outside its footprint. The XClass TVs, built by Hisense, are priced at starting at $298 and will include 12 months of NBCUniversal’s Peacock Premium with ads (normally $4.99/month).
The Apple TV app (not to be confused with the Apple TV 4K streaming set-top box) provides access to Apple TV Plus, as well as the ability to rent or purchase more than 100,000 movies and shows from iTunes (and access titles you’ve previously purchased from Apple).
In addition, the Apple TV app lets users subscribe to channels including Showtime, Starz, AMC Plus, Paramount Plus, Noggin and Epix — a feature Comcast confirmed would be enabled on its platforms, despite the fact the cable operator also resells several of those to its own video customers (which is the same for Apple TV app deals with other platforms that sell subscriptions to those services). Similarly, Comcast will allow other features of the Apple TV app, including access to pay-TV services from Charter and DirecTV and streaming services such as Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
Apple’s deal with Comcast is the latest example of the tech giant’s embrace of third-party hardware platforms. Just a few years ago, Apple largely had a “stovepipe” model, making its services available only on its own products like the iPhone and Apple TV set-top. That changed in 2019 with a deal to distribute the iTunes TV and Movies Shows app on Samsung TVs.
Currently, the Apple TV app is available on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast with Google TV (and other Android TVs), PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox, and TVs from LG, Sony, Samsung and Vizio. That’s in addition to its availability on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV.
The Apple TV Plus, which costs $4.99/month, features an expanding lineup of original shows, movies and documentaries includes series like the Emmy-wining “Ted Lasso,” “The Morning Show,” “Foundation,” “Invasion,” “Dickinson,” “Servant,” “Swagger” and “For All Mankind.”