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Comcast, Netflix Experiment with Streaming

Mari Silbey
12/31/2013

No, this isn't 2010, but even today the major video providers are still experimenting with different ways to package their streaming services.

Up first, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has introduced a new download feature for its over-the-top StreamPix rental offering. Comcast sells StreamPix for $4.99 per month to Xfinity subscribers, but the product gets bundled in for free with select Comcast service tiers.

Until recently, StreamPix only served up streaming content for online consumers, but Multichannel News discovered that a download option now works in the Streampix iPad app for a subset of available titles. This means users can play back content even when there's no Internet connection available. The new feature apparently went live as part of an app update in June.

Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is also testing out a new feature for its video service, but this one takes away functionality from the streaming experience rather than adding to it. Adweek was the first to report the appearance of a new pricing option for Netflix newbies.

For those new customers who don't want to pay the full $7.99 per month for up to two streams of high-definition video, there's now a service package being testing at a price point of $6.99 per month that includes access to only one stream at a time of standard-definition video. Netflix confirmed that the service tier is only being offered as a test today. It's not clear if the lower-cost option will ever be made available to all users.

OTT video is still new enough that no service provider has settled on a single ideal monetization strategy. In fact, trials of new service packages ramped up in 2013. (See Time Warner Shakes Up the Bundle.)

The experimentation trend is likely to continue in the New Year.

— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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albreznick
albreznick
1/9/2014 | 6:09:25 PM
Re: Terminology?
Maybe that was just the quality of the play that night? Seriously, I'm not surprised. It's the big Achilles heel for streaming video right now. That's why I expect to see a big push on the home networking front now to make home broadband connections uniformly better.  
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
1/7/2014 | 12:32:36 PM
Re: Terminology?
I found that hockey games are either great or terrible as streamed video - if the broadband isn't strong, they are very herky-jerky and almost unwatchable. 
albreznick
albreznick
1/7/2014 | 12:31:12 PM
Re: Terminology?
How about Black Hawks games, Carol?
albreznick
albreznick
1/7/2014 | 12:30:21 PM
Re: Experimentation
Good question, Dan. I think the experimentation period will be wioth us for a while, at least two to three years. nobody really has a clue what will work just yet. 
DOShea
DOShea
12/31/2013 | 4:24:16 PM
Experimentation
If companies are trying different things and don't want to look too committed to any single approach just yet, when will all that experimentation be over? With new pricing/packaging models, it seems likely the big guys are usually afraid to jump until an market underdog does it first.
DanJones
DanJones
12/31/2013 | 2:38:32 PM
Re: Terminology?
For sure!
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
12/31/2013 | 2:35:11 PM
Re: Terminology?
The download option is much more attractive for viewing movies on the iPad while traveling. 
DanJones
DanJones
12/31/2013 | 2:17:41 PM
Re: Terminology?
Cache n carry! I like it!
msilbey
msilbey
12/31/2013 | 2:13:04 PM
Re: Terminology?
Motorola used to call this cache n carry...
DanJones
DanJones
12/31/2013 | 1:52:31 PM
Terminology?
So wouldn't these be more like backed-up access rather than streaming. Nomadic access, maybe?
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