Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) customers may soon be able to stream games from Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) to their living rooms.
According to a report by Reuters, Comcast and EA are expected to reach a deal to stream a selection of games from EA, such as the “Madden” series and "Plants vs. Zombies" through Comcast’s X1 cable box system. Should the deal be completed, Electronic Arts would gain access to 22 million Comcast customers in the United States, and they would be able to purchase games through the Comcast X1 Internet-connected cable box.
This latest potential move by Comcast and EA arrives as alternative entertainment media boxes have been actively competing against the aging medium through products such as the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Apple TV and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Fire TV, which also looks to merge gaming with a digital streaming entertainment box.
Comcast has been actively pushing its X1 service in order to fend off the growing number of cord cutters, or those who have eliminated cable-television subscriptions in favor of an Internet-only subscription.
However, this potential deal between Comcast and EA would also open up a new competing front for Comcast against Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE).
The two video game console developers have made strides in recent years to further integrate living room entertainment with their respective Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, expanding their use from merely video game consoles into full-fledged streaming entertainment centers where users could purchase and download movies, music and video game content on the fly.
The deal between EA and Comcast would enable a similar function with the X1 cable box, sources told Reuters.
The deal would potentially open up a new revenue stream for content makers such as Electronic Arts. However, it also raises questions about the fate of upcoming competing services such as Sony’s PlayStation Now game streaming service as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently poised to ease Net neutrality rules to allow broadband providers to charge more to companies for faster access.
The FCC hasn’t finalized its planned Net neutrality rules yet. However, its potential effects have already begun to surface as competing streaming content providers such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) have struck deals with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and Comcast to provide a direct connection to their networks. Should Comcast and EA finalize a game streaming deal, services such as PlayStation Now could potentially face hurdles similar to those faced by Netflix.
Comcast is also positioning itself to purchase Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) in a $45 billion deal, which is currently awaiting regulatory approval.