Comcast making video-streaming box for broadband-only customers 

Comcast plans to roll out a new product for broadband-only subscribers that will allow customers to aggregate certain streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube, with a voice-activated remote — a response to the ongoing challenge of navigating video between a variety of sources, according to people familiar with the matter.

The product, which will first be a set-top box and is meant to be an operating platform similar to X1, will launch next year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the internal discussions are private. Comcast hasn’t decided how much it will charge per month for the device, said the people.

Comcast declined to comment on the plans.

Comcast currently gives its video customers access to its X1 platform, which aggregates cable TV with many of the same apps that will be available on the new product, such as Netflix and YouTube, said the people. The new product won’t have cable TV, although it will give customers the option to rent shows and movies and upgrade to a Comcast video package, the people said.

The product isn’t quite a direct competitor to Roku or Apple TV because it won’t allow customers access to hundreds of apps, including streaming TV bundles like AT&T‘s DirecTV Now or Dish‘s Sling. Those services are direct competitors to Comcast’s video bundle, and Comcast wouldn’t be able to push its own video service to its broadband-only customers if it allowed them access to those bundled OTT services. Comcast hasn’t decided the exact number of apps that will be accessible through the device, said the people.

Rather, Comcast wants the device to be the hub to the connected home, they said. In addition to aggregating streaming apps, the device will also allow customers to control anything that’s connected to the Internet, including thermostats and smart-locks.

Comcast will be marketing the product to Internet-only customers, said the people. Comcast added 334,000 residential broadband subscribers in third quarter, it announced last month, and views broadband as the primary growth engine of its telecommunications business. The company has about 25 million total home broadband customers.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

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