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Week In Review: Comcast To Add Sling TV To X1 Set Top Boxes; Is Amazon About To Get Into The Live Streaming Game?

1. Comcast To Add Sling TV To X1 Set Top Boxes

In a move that set off a whole lot of head-scratching, Comcast announced that it was going to be offering Sling, rival MVPD Dish’s virtual pay-TV service, on its X1 platform.

Why would Comcast do that, given that Dish is a direct competitor?

The official reason is that they are hoping users get the service to take advantage of Sling’s foreign language channels, something Comcast doesn’t offer.

The unofficial reason is that they are not offering the X1 box to Sling-only users and thus do not need to fear that current users will defect.

In other words, there is no way you could drop Comcast pay-TV and substitute Sling, while keeping the X1 box. They’re banking on the fact that hardly anyone will try Sling out on X1 and decide to cut the cord in favor of X1, which seems like a pretty wise decision.

Why It Matters

The move to offer Sling is part of a broader strategy on Comcast’s part to add more third party options to its offering. Apps from Buzzfeed, Machinima, Fullscreen and other MCNs will soon be available via X1. Netflix is already available. It’s a very smart move on their part, as it costs very little to host these various services on Comcast’s servers and offer them up to subscribers as add-ons. Whether the new services are subscription or ad-supported, Comcast gets a cut.

More than that though, it gives them a tangible advantage over rival services, one that might actually help them make up for their horrendous customer service reputation.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an MVPD, you should look into doing exactly what Comcast is doing. There are no negatives to adding all these VOD services and it creates extra revenue and a competitive advantage.

If you’re an advertiser, you should look to run ads on these new add-ons— you’ll likely get great rates and an audience that appreciates that you’re supporting their favorite app.

2. Is Amazon About To Get Into The Live Streaming Game?

Rumors are buzzing that Amazon is looking to get into live streaming sporting events. They have allegedly been talking to several of the major sports leagues and looking to make a deal to stream games on Amazon Prime.

Why It Matters

Amazon may not be a social network, but it has way more data on its users than Facebook or Twitter. Remember, Amazon knows exactly what its users actually buy, not what they “like” or comment on. That’s way more valuable to an advertiser, as social media users tend to massage their behavior for public consumption. So that even a hardcore user of Dial soap may not ever “Like” it on Facebook because it’s well, Dial soap and not every sexy.  But they will buy it on Amazon and Amazon know that.

Amazon also has a huge advantage over Facebook and Twitter in the live streaming arena and that is most people watch Amazon Prime on an actual TV set, which makes it ideal for sports. It’s also a subscription service, so there wouldn’t be ads, also ideal for sports fans, though perhaps tough to make deals around, as Twitter was able to strike a deal because they’ll just be carrying the live streams from CBS and NBC, along with the existing ad load. Big question is will live sports be included in Prime or will it cost extra?

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a network with rights to a major sports league, you need to have your lawyers figure out what you can do to stop that league from selling rights to Amazon. Because live sports on Amazon will turn out to be pretty popular as they offer a much better user experience than Twitter along with great viewer stats for the leagues. And if it’s included in Prime, that’s a huge enticement for fans.

If you’re a sports league, you should definitely get in touch with Amazon, for all the reasons listed above.