Alternatives to traditional cable TV packages are nothing new. With services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go, more and more people are realizing they don’t need to pay a ton of money every month for channels and content they don’t need or want. Comcast has not been the fastest to respond to the trend, but their new Stream service is a sign that they are at least paying some attention.
The way we watch TV has become more personal than ever. I like to watch live on the big screen in my living room. My kids, on the other hand, prefer to catch up with their favorite shows on their laptops, on demand. As this diversity in preferences continues to grow, we’ve added new features and offerings to try and meet the needs of everyone who loves TV. – Matt Strauss, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Video Services for Comcast Cable
Launching in Boston this summer, Stream will be available to Xfinity Internet customers for $15/month with Seattle and Chicago being added by the end of the year; further expanding across the US market in 2016.
Stream will give customers access to live TV from channels like: HBO, Fox, and NBC. It also includes thousands of on demand movies and shows; TV Everywhere (which allows customers to sign into apps that require a cable subscription); and a cloud DVR to record content for later viewing or streaming. Activating the service will only require a simple online sign-up with no need for any installation or phone-calls with customer service representatives.
There are some caveats to consider (besides the whole Comcast thing). The Stream service will only work on mobile apps and the web for now; not TV set-top boxes. Furthermore, unlike the popular Sling service, users will only be able to Stream content inside their home. So no streaming on the go. Sling also has subscriptions to more cable channels like: ESPN, IFC, TNT and others for additional costs. Stream currently offers only HBO Go with no way to expand on the package for now.
Since Stream will be IP-based, and is delivered over the company’s managed network, you can be sure that at least some competitors will see this as a net neutrality problem. An accusation that Comcast has faced before from Neflix.
There is potential here, but Comcast is late to the game and will definitely have to evolve the offering quickly to stay competitive in the years to come.