Light Reading

Comcast Opens Live Streaming Spigot

Mari Silbey
3/19/2014
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Further opening the valve on its live TV streaming efforts, Comcast is adding 18 linear TV channels to its recently relaunched Xfinity TV Go app.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s new live streaming roster includes TNT, TruTV, and TBS, which are showing NCAA men's college basketball tournament games this week. Other new networks in the Xfinity live streaming library include A&E, Bravo, Cooking Channel, DIY Network, E!, Food Network, HGTV, HISTORY, mun2, Oxygen, Sprout, STARZ, Syfy, Travel Channel, and USA Network. In total, Comcast now offers more than 50 live channels for viewing over WiFi links on its mobile app and the Xfinity website.

The live streams include popular sports and news programming from channels like ESPN, CNN, and MSNBC, but they don't include content from the four major broadcast networks, including Comcast's own NBC. Though the broadcast networks do offer some live linear TV programming themselves over the Internet, the shows are largely available through their own app and website properties. Ironically, broadcasters increasingly require authentication from a pay TV provider before providing access to their content online. This is true for the March Madness basketball games CBS is airing, as well as content on ABCs WatchABC app. (See ABC Joins Live TV Streaming Parade.)

Meanwhile, live streaming of linear television is growing more common across the industry. In response to customer interest, thePlatform Inc. , a Comcast subsidiary, updated its mpx publishing system last fall to accommodate the management of live TV alongside on-demand video. Its customers include Fox Broadcasting Co. and Comcast's own NBC Universal . (See thePlatform Places Live TV Bet.)

Even on the rights front, programmers appear to be warming up to the idea of streaming live video online. Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) recently signed a deal with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) that will allow it to become the first US pay-TV provider to stream Disney, ESPN, and ABC networks to broadband-only subscribers. The agreement will help Dish launch its long-planned over-the-top video service, which should accelerate the live streaming trend even further. (See No Mickey Mouse Deal for Dish.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/20/2014 | 7:09:04 PM
Re: Second Screen
I agree there's lots of great content available on the web. And traditional television is taking a smaller and smaller role in people's entertainment budgets. But I don't see traditional television as disappearing, not until we start seeing hour-long scripted dramas, half-hour sitcoms, and reality series on the Internet. 

The transition is going to be long and gradual. Though it is well under way. 
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 10:19:30 PM
Re: Second Screen
I think it's all cost and convenience, guys. Cable may have the best content and best video quality but it's far more expensive than online video. So, if consumers can get much of what they want a lot cheaper and search for it a lot easier, cable is going to feel the impact. And I think it already is. 
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2014 | 7:16:30 PM
Re: Second Screen
That content is a sliver of what is avalible, though those shows are very popular I see many more people turning to web based content to get what they want, if that is the growing trend it will be an issue. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/19/2014 | 6:16:28 PM
Re: Second Screen
Cable content seems to be pretty popular nowadays: Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Walking Dead, etc. I don't think appealing content is the problem. 
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2014 | 6:07:07 PM
Re: Second Screen
I always come back to thinking that content is king, and if cable can not match the content that cutomers are fining online then I think any second screen play they make wont help attract new customers, I think it will just help them keep current subs. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/19/2014 | 5:52:58 PM
Re: Second Screen
Elsewhere today on Light Reading, we saw that pay TV lost subscribers year-over-year for the first time ever. Services like this, making pay TV more attractive to customers, can help stanch the flow. 
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2014 | 4:24:23 PM
Re: Second Screen
I agree that any time you can include something to add value that is a plus, and if cable can pull it off that is great. I have always said that no one is goign to be able to deliver a better quality video experience in the home than cable, and to this day I feel that is true. That being said content is king and if cable can not get their hands on the content their users want then its going to be an uphill battle. 
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 4:10:07 PM
Re: Second Screen
Parity with the big screen should be the goal, I think. If it's included, that's a really attractive model to a consumer and a reason to stick with cable.
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2014 | 3:30:59 PM
Second Screen
Seems like the fight for the second screen is heating up. And also starting to look like the first or primary screen.
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