Comcast to Offer New, Low-Cost Streaming TV Service
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, is giving its customers the option to cut the cord.
The company said Monday that it is beta-testing a video streaming service for its Xfinity Internet customers that will offer a pared-down package of TV channels, including HBO, for $15 a month.
The pilot program, called Stream, is expected to launch later this summer in Boston, where Comcast customers enjoy some of the fastest Internet service speeds in the nation. After that, Philadelphia-based Comcast is set to roll out the new product in Chicago, Seattle and, later, other Comcast markets.
Comcast becomes the latest established media company to embrace Internet delivery of video as more consumers consider cutting the cable cord. HBO, CBS, Sony, Dish Network and Verizon earlier this year launched streaming services in an attempt to adapt to new technology and seismic shifts in consumer behavior. The move is groundbreaking for Comcast because its bread-and-butter business has long been piping pricey packages of cable TV channels into millions of homes.
“With Stream, Xfinity Internet customers can watch live TV from about a dozen networks — including all the major broadcast nets and HBO — on laptops, tablets and phones in their home,” Matt Strauss, general manager of video services for Comcast TV, wrote in an announcement on Comcast’s corporate blog.
The channels can be watched through an app installed on their personal computers, smartphones and tablets without a cable subscription. The service will also offer on-demand movies and have DVR capabilities. The move underscores how Internet service has usurped traditional cable TV packages as Comcast’s fastest-growing and most important service. Comcast’s strength continues to be its vast network of fiber lines, but it now has more Internet service customers — more than 22 million — than those who subscribe to cable TV channels. The streaming service helps Comcast hedge its bets.
Comcast did not immediately say whether the service eventually would be available nationwide, enabling customers who do not live in Comcast markets the option of subscribing. The streaming service is seen as an acknowledgment of the greater control that viewers have over how they consume their TV content.
Comcast and other cable companies have been offering smaller and less expensive packages of channels to compete with Netflix as more young consumers seek out their favorite programming through Internet streaming.