Broadband services

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

albreznick 10/28/2013 | 10:30:34 PM
Re: Netflix effect You're definitely on to something there. HBO is most certainly worried about Netflix. So it has to find ways to loosen its cable binds without ticking off cable operators too much. Will be most ebtertaining to watch. 
David Dines 10/28/2013 | 1:38:56 PM
Re: Comcast's strategy On a personal level, I am glad to see this move so I can pay for what I want to watch and not for all the other channels I do not care about.

My opinion has been (since Netflix started streaming) that this model is inevitable, and eventually all of the incumbents will recognize this and get on board.  As a side note, this seems like it is about the right amount of time for a major incumbent move - they typically wait quite a while before making change of this magnitude.  

The big unknown is the transition to a profitable new business model. I think that there will a lot of experimentation with bundles/tiers/pricing and broadband speeds and data caps before things settle out.
brookseven 10/28/2013 | 1:30:50 PM
One VoD note  

Something I have noticed lately and have changed a couple of things because of it.  VoD of broadcast cable programs are starting to have "no fast forward" button.  This means that I am using my DVR more and more to record programs since I can still skip commercials.  I used to use VoD for many programs to time shift, since for TV it is free (or no additional cost).  For re-runs, it looks like fast forward is still available just not for first run programs.

Just as an aside, in all my years I have bought 1 movie from VoD.  To me, VoD is like a different version of my Netflix subscription.  I do not buy into the "sooner than on Netflix" nonsense as well.  If I didn't bother to see a movie in the theater than this month or 3 months from now doesn't matter.



KBode 10/28/2013 | 8:55:43 AM
Re: Bundles of joy It's a nice first step. Unfortunately, it's only being aimed at new customers, when the company needs to aim such offers at existing customers to prevent users from downgrading to just broadband. I think the promotional pricing also quickly loses its luster, since it jumps to $60 to $70 after 18 months, and to $70 to $80 another six months after that.

A very good start, though. The price tag is less than what I pay for a standalone 15 Mbps FiOS line. More of this kind of thing, please.
kaop 10/27/2013 | 11:17:56 PM
Netflix effect Maybe HBO is feeling the pressure from Internet content streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.  This might be a start of HBO web subscription service without stepping on their cable/satellite partners toes.
albreznick 10/27/2013 | 9:01:15 PM
Comcast's strategy How many different types of options do you think Comcast may try out, Mari? Any sense of which approach they like better? What do you think other MSOs are up to on this front, besides Cox?
albreznick 10/27/2013 | 1:29:20 PM
Re: Bundles of joy Agreed. Not only is it a move in the rigtht direction, it's a very necssary step. Boardband is quickly emerging as the foundation service, not traditional video. So cable operators must find new ways to compete on the broadband front, particularly with OTT providers breathing down their necks. Now let's see how those negotiations with Netflix work out.   
MarkC73 10/26/2013 | 10:24:19 PM
Re: Bundles of joy Why not?  Might as well get some value add for those Internet only customers, plus now they have access to VoD which can only boost RPS.  I realize it will be a while before ala carte and OTT, but it seems like a move in the right direction.
DOShea 10/25/2013 | 10:23:36 PM
Bundles of joy This is exciting stuff, and really looks like the future of cable TV, or at least part of its future. I think Cox got a glimpse of that future, and didn't like what it saw, but maybe Comcast figured its worth a try.
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