Comcast Opens Live Streaming Spigot
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