Comcast Xfinity, a cable operator in the US, and Sky, a group of European satellite TV and online video operators purchased by Comcast in October 2018, announced the launch of Xfinity XClass in the US, and Sky Glass in the UK, respectively, in October 2021.
From a US perspective, the revolutionary aspect of this is the fact that Xfinity will be able to reach customers outside of their cable network, over the internet, without the need for a set-top box. In Europe, where Sky Glass is already available to buy, viewers can access all of Sky’s channels without needing a satellite dish or a set-top box. Comcast is attempting to be a superior aggregator than the Apple TV 4K or Amazon Fire Stick 4K by offering a 4K TV set with a full Xfinity or Sky pay-TV lineup, key streaming apps, and optional broadband connection.
On a Q4 2021 earnings call on January 27, 2022, Comcast emphasized that “Sky Glass is a really important growth opportunity. In the UK, Sky Glass was available to pre-order very soon after the launch announcement and it became available for purchase in the second half of January 2022. In the fourth quarter of last year Sky only added 61,000 new customers to reach 23 million. These include pay-TV subscribers, pay online video subscribers and fixed broadband subscribers. The Q4 number is significantly down on the net addition of 221,000, 248,000, and 233,000 new customers in the first three quarters of 2021.
Comcast Xfinity yet to launch in US
Xfinity Class is yet to launch in the US. The cable operator is losing video subscribers but the parent company only reported total customer (+255,000), broadband (+300,000) and wireless (+285,000) net additions; overall the number of customer relationships increased from 34.0 million to 34.2 million. For the total net additions to be significantly less than broadband and wireless net additions cable TV subscribers needed to decline. However, what Comcast loses on cable TV is partly offset in subscribers and revenues generated by its pay online video service Peacock. The name came from NBCUniversal’s famous colorful logo, another brand in the Comcast family. Xfinity XClass TV will most likely be offered at a discount with a Comcast cable TV and/or Comcast fixed broadband package and Comcast is banking on XClass TV to reduce the decline in cable TV subscribers and to raise the profile of Peacock.
On GlobalData’s Internet TV Thematic Scorecard, Comcast ranks 11 out of 49. Amazon and Netflix rank first and second, respectively, mainly due to their superior utilization of AI and audio streaming. Comcast only scored two out of five on the AI theme, whereas Amazon and Netflix scored five and four, respectively. A score of one or two is highlighted in red, which alerts investors or stakeholders that in the next 12 months the themes will negatively impact the company’s revenue. As a result, investing in AI will be crucial for the established global media conglomerate.