Comcast Set to Bundle Broadband & HBO
Cable is experimenting with a new kind of bundle, and it centers on broadband.
DSLReports has information from an insider source suggesting that Comcast is ready to launch a new service called Internet Plus. The broadband-focused bundle combines a 25 Mbit/s Internet tier with Limited Basic TV (20 channels plus VOD), HBO/HBO Go, and the StreamPix streaming video service. The new offering is expected to run between $40 and $50 per month for the first year, but then jump up to the $60 to $70 range in the six months following, and the $70 to $80 range after a year and a half.
Interestingly, the Internet Plus bundle isn't as attractive as another offering Comcast already has on the market called Blast Plus. Blast Plus includes a 50 Mbit/s Internet tier plus local channels, VOD, and "popular favorites like CNN, A&E and Comedy Central," and HBO/HBO Go and Streampix. The promotional price is only $49.99 for the first six months.
Regardless of which offering Comcast promotes -- and it may be different in different markets -- the fact that the company is now pairing HBO service with broadband and a limited television channel line-up is significant. It shows that Comcast is aware of the increased importance of Internet service in the triple play, that a subset of subscribers isn't willing to pay for ESPN but still wants premium content, and that streaming services are critical to remaining competitive.
Cox also showed this year that it's willing to explore the possibility of bundling broadband and IP video streaming services. The company's flareWatch trial was limited to Orange County in California, and only lasted about two months, but it combined broadband access with 97 IPTV channels including ESPN, Disney, and Discovery. That trial was also notable because Cox partnered with Fanhattan to deliver the service with a Fan TV set-top and user interface. (See Cox Flirts With Fanhattan and Cox's IPTV Trial Flames Out.)
The cable industry is changing in many ways, and the idea of new broadband and IP video bundles is just one example. With more web video offerings on the horizon, cable has to up its creativity quotient to compete.
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable