Comcast will roll out a new $15-per-month streaming TV service aimed at its Internet subscribers who want just a sliver of cable.
Known as Stream, the service is geared toward viewers who don't want to pay big bucks for a full-featured cable TV package but still want to catch certain shows and movies from HBO and a handful of standard broadcast networks. The only requirement is that you need to be a subscriber to Comcast's Internet service. You'll then be able to watch live TV and on-demand shows from around a dozen networks, Comcast said. The new service will throw in access to TV Everywhere, which lets you watch content from any place, at any time and on any device; as well as Streampix, which offers on-demand streaming movies and TV shows. You'll also get a cloud DVR service so you can record up to 20 hours of your shows.
Stream is Comcast's effort to offer cord cutters an option to stay onboard, at least with some type of cable TV offering. A small but growing number of people are opting to cut the cord on expensive cable TV packages in favor of online-only services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. HBO and Showtime both now offer their own online-only packages. And services such as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue sell cable packages at more reasonable prices. Add up all that competition, and cable providers such as Comcast need to offer more flexible plans to keep people from slicing through the cord entirely.
Stream is also the latest in a series of lower-cost and "skinnier" options from Comcast. The cable giant's Internet Plus bundle offers a range of channels, including HBO, for $40 to $50 per month. And its Xfinity on Campus package is geared toward college students who want to watch shows and movies on their PCs and mobile devices.
Of course, for $15 a month, don't expect a huge potpourri of premium channels. Beyond HBO, Stream won't offer you access to any other cable-only network, the New York Times reported. You will be able to watch the standard networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS, but those are already available to cord cutters through services such as Hulu and via high-definition antennas. Still, the access to HBO, Streampix and a cloud DVR could make the service appealing to many Comcast Internet users. And Stream is an experiment at this point, so Comcast could tweak it down the road based on audience reaction.
Comcast customers who want more content can still subscribe to a basic cable package. Instead, Stream is being targeted toward younger viewers who like to watch their shows on computers and mobile devices, Matthew Strauss, Comcast Cable's general manager of video services, told the Times.
Stream will roll out to Boston at the end of the summer, then move to Chicago and Seattle. Comcast said it plans to launch the service to all customers by early 2016. Xfinity Internet subscribers can email Comcast to find out when Stream will be available in their area. The service won't require a visit from a technician. Customers will simply be able to subscribe online and download the Xfinity TV app when Stream pops up in their community.