SKINNY BUNDLE WITHOUT CABLE OR A TV
In an effort to reach cord-cutters and young people who’ve never subscribed to a cable or satellite TV service, Comcast has launched its own over-the-top (OTT) service. “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever offered: no extra device or additional equipment required…or even a TV. And it’s called Stream,” said Matt Strauss, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Video Services for Comcast Cable in TV, in a corporate blog post.
With Stream, Xfinity Internet customers will be able to watch live TV from about a dozen networks, the company said. And while they weren’t all identified, Comcast said the skinny bundle will include “all the major broadcast nets and HBO.” The service includes thousands of on demand movies and shows and also comes with access to TV Everywhere and a cloud DVR.
To get Stream a customer first has to be subscribing to Xfinity Internet—adding Stream is an extra $15 per month. The OTT service will first launch in Boston at the end of the summer, followed by Chicago and Seattle.
“Getting started is easy and doesn’t even require a phone call or a visit from a technician. Xfinity Internet customers can just sign-up online, download our Xfinity TV app and start watching. It’s that simple,” said Strauss. He said the idea was to make ordering the OTT service as simple as buying a song online.
Dish Network led the MVPD charge into OTT earlier this year with the launch of Sling TV. Its basic package of channels, which includes ESPN and more than 20 other cable channels, is priced at $20 per month. But HBO is an additional $15. Sling TV subscribers can buy their Internet access from whomever they choose.
Of course, Comcast has the advantage of owning quite a few networks. It could easily fill out Stream with a number of the NBCUniversal cable networks—such as Bravo, USA, Oxygen, Syfy, NBC Sports Network and NBC Universo—plus HBO and local affiliates of the three Big Four broadcast networks it doesn’t own—ABC, CBS and FOX. No doubt local NBC and Telemundo affiliates will be happy to participate (for a fee) in markets where NBCU doesn’t have O&Os.
Strictly speaking, Comcast is already in the OTT business. Xfinity on Campus allows college students to stream a variety of TV shows and movies, with the subscription cost included in their student housing fee. The success of that service is credited with moving Comcast to offer a direct-pay OTT service.