Comcast launches its new streaming TV service called Stream

13 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Comcast Has a New $15 Per Month Cable-Free TV Service Called Stream.

Comcast has announced that it has a new at-home TV streaming service—called Stream—that Xfinity customers will be able to bolt on to their existing contracts for $15 a month.NEW YORK — Comcast, the country’s largest cable operator, is responding to the rush of new streaming television alternatives with the start of its own Web-based offering that includes a bundle of broadcast networks and the premium cable network HBO.

Comcast’s new service is called Stream, and it will include programing from what it says are “about a dozen networks — including all the major broadcast nets and HBO.” Priced at $15 a month, the service will only be available to Comcast’s Xfinity Internet subscribers via the Xfinity TV app. Many consumers, especially younger ones, are willing to pay for Internet service but are ditching cable packages in favor of streaming services that are often cheaper and offer more flexibility than the typical cable bundle. As Engadget points out, then, this isn’t a streaming service like you may be used to but, in the words of a Comcast spokesperson, “an IP-based cable service that offers live, on demand and cloud DVR delivered over our managed network in the home.” In other words, it’s very much cable TV without cables, but also with fewer things to watch. Called Stream, the new service will be available in Boston, Chicago, and Seattle this year and across the company’s coverage areas in the United States in 2016. “Clearly, there are changes that are happening in the market,” said Matthew Strauss, Comcast Cable’s executive vice president and general manager of video services. “Not everybody is going to want a full pay-TV bundle.” There are limitations, however, that could curb the new service’s appeal to potential subscribers.

That excludes networks like the sports hub ESPN and AMC, home to the zombie-apocalypse hit “The Walking Dead.” The broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and PBS — along with several other networks, are typically available free via high-definition antennas that cost about $25. Sling also lets users watch TV anywhere, while Xfinity internet customers are limited to using Stream on their home Wi-Fi, a restriction that raises questions about net neutrality. Strauss said people seeking a broader lineup of channels and the ability to watch on their TVs had the option of subscribing to Comcast’s standard cable package.

A Comcast representative told Engadget that the service is IP-based, and is delivered over the company’s “managed network.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hit out at Comcast in 2012 for its Xbox 360 Xfinity app, which appeared to stream to console without counting against any monthly data cap — suggesting that the service was getting preferential treatment compared to other internet traffic. The Wall Street Journal said last year that Comcast was in talks with Apple to produce a set-top box that would take advantage of priority internet traffic, but the talks reportedly broke down after Apple decided Comcast was “stringing it along” while developing its own technology. He said the service could eventually include the option to substitute other premium cable networks for HBO and to add packages of children’s, sports, lifestyle, and movie programming for an extra $5 to $10 a month. In the meantime, Comcast’s latest streaming offering is an attempt by the company to cover all the bases, joining with its more traditional TV packages to pull in money from cord cutters and cable subscribers alike. At the same time, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding their streaming offerings with deeper libraries and more exclusive and original television and movie content.

The streaming services pose a threat to the entrenched cable business, which is steadily gaining broadband subscribers but is battling to hold on to video subscribers. The number of American households that pay for broadband service but not television increased 16 percent, to 10.7 million in 2014, from 9.2 million in 2012, according to SNL Kagan.

Other cable operators have experimented with products aimed at appealing to the cord cutters, who have canceled their cable packages but watch television via the Internet, or cord nevers, who never subscribed at all.

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