Why Comcast Is Launching Dish’s Sling TV Bundles on X1 Set-Tops

Todd Spangler
Variety

Comcast has reached a deal with Dish Network, one of its fiercest competitors in the pay-TV market, to offer the satcaster’s array of Sling TV internet-delivered services on the cable giant’s X1 platform.

What’s going on here? It might seem odd that Comcast would enter into a business arrangement with an over-the-top rival — especially because all the channels in Sling TV’s core packages are also available from Comcast. But the partnership between the two companies is primarily aimed at offering Sling TV’s international and multicultural programming to the cable company’s video subscribers.

In addition to its “skinny bundles” for general entertainment, news and sports, Sling TV offers a suite of standalone and add-on Spanish-language programming packages tailored to English-dominant, bilingual and Spanish-dominant U.S. households. Overall, Sling TV’s multicultural programming packages currently provide more than 320 channels in 21 languages including in Arabic, Chinese, Urdu, Hindi, Italian, German, Polish and Vietnamese.

“The addition of Sling TV’s multicultural programming will be an excellent complement to the existing international offerings on X1 and will be attractive to our customers,” Javier Garcia, senior VP and GM of multicultural services for Comcast Cable, said in a statement. “Our customers are becoming increasingly diverse and this is a fantastic opportunity to quickly deliver even more customized and multicultural programming to them, on an X1 platform that’s smart, fast and easy-to-use.”

The companies didn’t say when Sling TV would be available on X1, promising to provide more details later. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The move comes after Comcast earlier this month launched Netflix on X1, with the goal of making the cable service the one-stop hub for home entertainment. As of the end of September, Comcast had 22.4 million video subscribers nationwide and the operator says it expects about 50% of its TV subscribers to be on X1 by the end of 2016.

Pricing for Sling TV services on X1 will be consistent with current offers on other platforms; Sling TV’s multicultural packages start at $10 per month. All Sling TV packages will be available on Comcast’s platform, so someone could theoretically subscribe to the $20-per-month baseline Sling Orange plan and watch it through their Comcast set-top.

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