By Troy Dreier
The cable and pay TV giant goes after cord-nevers with a low-priced streaming offering, but its many limitations ensure it will have a hard time standing out among the competition.
Comcast will launch its own streaming television service this fall, a major move for a leading cable internet and pay TV provider, but the offering’s many limitations ensure that it won’t be right for everyone.
Called Stream, the service will cost $15 per month and will only be available to Comcast internet subscribers. While the full specs haven’t been announced it will offer around a dozen channels, including NBC, Fox, and HBO, as well as a cloud DVR and access to Xfinity Streampix, Comcast’s video-on-demand service. Subscribers will also be able to use authentication-required TV Everywhere services. Stream will launch in Boston as a beta by the end of the summer, followed by Chicago and Seattle later this year. In 2016, Comcast plans to roll it out to additional markets.
About those limitations: Stream will only be usable in the home, as it requires a Comcast connection to operate. There’s no set-top box access planned: Subscriber are meant to use it on a notebook or mobile device, and upgrade to a pay TV account if they want TV viewing. Also, the only cable network included in the plan is HBO. All the others are broadcast channels.
A Comcast executive told the New York Times that Comcast may offer add-in bundles for children’s, sports, lifestyle, or movie programming sometime in the future, with bundles going for $5 to $10 per month. That’s similar to the add-in bundles Sling TV offers.
Stream is a cautious toe in the water by a pay TV provider that doesn’t want to cannibalize its business. While it’s interesting to see pay TV make this step, Stream is too limited to have mass appeal.