Comcast Hopes Fans Of The Olympics Will Like Its Voice-Controlled Remote So Much They Won’t Cut The Cord

Faced with a future where people can watch as much content as they want without a cable subscription, Comcast is getting ready to launch a product during the Rio Olympics it hopes will keep customers from pulling out those scissors and cutting the cord.

Comcast owns NBC, and NBC has the rights to air the Olympics — and is planning on airing every single event live, either on TV or online.

To take advantage of that, Comcast is pushing its new technology called X1, a black box with a voice-controlled remote that works a lot like digital assistants from Amazon and Apple: during the Olympics, Comcast subscribers can speak into the remote to search by event, athlete, or country, and get alerts when their favorite team is close to winning a gold, Bloomberg reports.

The company hopes this will blur the lines between cable and online, and show customers they don’t need to cut the cord to go looking for content elsewhere.

This way, “the Olympics will be individualized, personalized and on every device” for Comcast subscribers, CEO Brian Roberts told Bloomberg. “This is the future of television.”

It’s also a “coming together moment” for both parts of Comcast, Roberts says: NBC has the exclusive rights to air the Olympics through 2032, and making it easier to find events you want to watch on X1 could boost the network’s ratings.

“Once NBC secured the Olympics rights, we thought ‘What could the rest of the company do to innovate?” Roberts said. The Olympics “is our laboratory.”

X1 isn’t cheap, it’s worth noting, as the company reaped about $82 per month on average per video customer last year, Bloomberg notes. Then there’s the one-time $19 upgrade fee some customers have to pay in certain markets. That’s more expensive than options like Netflix (about $10 a month) or Dish Network’s Sling TV, which has about 20 channels available for $20 month.

“There is a risk that Comcast is positioning X1 as a Mercedes at a time when more of the market is looking at an economy car,” Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathansonm told Bloomberg.

Comcast CEO Prepares His Netflix Killer for an Olympics Showcase [Bloomberg]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.