Comcast, Netflix Experiment with Streaming

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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