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Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

A new subscription video streaming service from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) may not look like a direct competitor to Hulu LLC 's Premium Plus or Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), but it may keep some of its cable TV customers from joining those over-the-top video services.

Comcast said the new service, called Xfinity Streampix and to be launched on Thursday, will offer thousands of older movie titles, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Big Lebowski, and a deeper library of past seasons of TV shows, including 30 Rock, The Office and Ugly Betty. Comcast's initial licensing partners for the new streaming endeavor include corporate cousin NBCUniversal LLC , Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Cookie Jar, a distributor of kids programming.

Comcast is billing Streampix as a "complement" to the 75,000 TV shows and movies it currently offers on its traditional cable VoD service and via its TV Everywhere platform, Xfinity TV. It'll offer Streampix titles initially on iOS devices, with plans to extend access to the Xbox 360 and Android-powered devices later this year.

Comcast will keep Streampix out of the reach of so-called cord-cutters, as users will need to subscribe to the MSO's pay-TV service in order to get it. Early on, the MSO will bundle Streampix with most of its triple-play packages and to customers who tie Comcast video service to one of the MSO's high-end cable modem tier such as Blast!, which comes with a downstream that maxes out at 30Mbit/s. Any other Comcast video subs can get Streampix for an extra $4.99 per month. Importantly, Comcast will not sell Streampix outside of the MSO's cable footprint, at least not here at the start.

"It gives us a lot of flexibility with bundling," a Comcast spokesperson says.

Why this matters
Comcast is launching the service as it looks to shore up its own pay-TV packages and fend off a budding cord-cutting trend.

Streampix is also emerging as Comcast starts to see competitive service providers develop and launch more extensive over-the-top video options. Among recent moves, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has teamed with Redbox Automated Retail LLC on a streaming and DVD rental package that will debut later this year.

For more
Read more about cord-cutting and pay-TV's recent embrace of OTT video.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:53 PM
re: Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus

Just when I'm thinking that the supply of video, and delivery options, is outstripping demand for video consumption -- Do we need another platform? -- I spot the icon for one of those many movies I've never seen, Easy Rider in this case, and think well, if displayed that way, maybe I'd go for it. Once you get to a Web services-based back office and UI, there are going to be many such tweaks to the package. Few being home runs, of course.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:51 PM
re: Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus

My advice to Comcast: lower your pay TV rates and you won't have to worry to much about subscribers cutting the cord. And maybe you'll even increase your subscriber base. Low (reasonable?) prices is one reason people go with Netflix or Hulu.

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:50 PM
re: Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus

Increase? I don't think even they have drunk enough kool-aid to think they can go positive yet when it comes to video subs... looks like an effort like this is focused on retention and trying to slow the bleeding like they did in Q4.  But it's also telling that they are not offering this to any non pay-TV subs.  But to me this also seems like the groundwork toward an out of footprint subscription TV play, though Comcast has said the idea isn't economically justifiable just yet. JB

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:49 PM
re: Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus

Heh, that is a great point.&nbsp; Almost too many choices...i need an overarching&nbsp;search tool that tells me which shows and movies are offered on what platform (If there's one out there, please send word).&nbsp; Just got done watching the first season of Downton Abbey (because&nbsp;watching&nbsp;an episode equates to reading a book, don't you know?) on Netflix&nbsp; , then almost paid to download Season 2 when I discovered that PBS&nbsp;has those&nbsp;episodes&nbsp;avail. for free if you stream it from their Web site or iPad app.&nbsp; A little extra searching saved me at least $20. But it's just too hard to tell what each of these OTT &nbsp;services really offer and what they really don't. JB&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

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