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HD Report | March 23, 2017

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Comcast launching streaming TV service

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comcast_logo_newComcast will launch a slim, internet-based television service called “Stream” that will target cord-cutters, cord-nevers, and maybe anyone tired of paying giant cable TV bills. The service will first launch in Boston at the end of this summer, then in Chicago and Seattle, followed by Philadelphia and other markets next year.

Comcast will offer the service for $15 per month to Xfinity Internet customers, no long-term commitment required.

The streaming service will include “major broadcast nets” such as ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, (although Comcast did not specifically name the networks in their press release), as well as HBO (which HBO already offers as a standalone service for $14.99 per month).

To use the service, Comcast says customers will only have to sign-up online and download the Xfinity TV app. We imagine “Stream” will also work on PC browsers without an app extension, although Comcast did not indicate a domain name or direct URL.

“Stream” will also provide access to thousands of titles On Demand, the ability to store titles to watch later using a cloud-based DVR, and the ability to watch some programming anywhere (meaning outside your home network), although many networks and programs won’t be accessible because of distribution limitations.

While it’s hard to call the service “over-the-top” given the fact customers will still need to pay for high-speed internet service (we’re not sure exactly what tier will be required) from Comcast, the $15 per month streaming service may be well-suited for some Comcast customers. However, given that the slimmed-down package will lack sports networks such as ESPN and Comcast SportsNetwork Philadelphia, and other popular cable channels, there may be a high turnover rate for customers who try the service.

Comcast did mention additional channel packs will be priced at $5 to $10 per month.

Then, there is the issue of internet connectivity. WiFi and even wired networks are not always reliable; there can be interruptions, interference, bandwidth issues, and just plain bad internet service that will prevent customers from getting reliable channel streams. It’s yet another reason why customers may try the service but go back to traditional cable TV.

Dish’s Sling TV was the first to offer over-the-top television service early this year, and premium networks HBO and Showtime also launched their own internet-based services (albeit without an assortment of “TV” channels – only their own content), called HBO Now and SHOWTIME. Cablevision also starting offering cord-cutting packages that include the use of an HD antenna to grab television signals over-the-air.

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