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Comcast 'Stream' Joins OTT Flood

Carol Wilson
7/13/2015
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Comcast has joined the parade of OTT video providers with Monday's unveiling of its Stream service, which allows Comcast Infinity customers to watch live TV from the major broadcast networks and HBO -- about a dozen networks in total -- on any device within the home.

The move is just the latest by the cable giant to try to address specific video market segments and the latest from a major industry player to use over-the-top video delivery which offers live TV over a broadband Internet connection.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) customers will pay $15 extra for the service and can access it by downloading the Xfinity TV app. Stream comes with access to TV Everywhere and Comcast's cloud DVR service, so customers can use the service to record and watch shows later. What Stream doesn't require is a TV set.

Update to clarify: According to Comcast, this service doesn't require a set-top box, just the in-home gateway, and is delivered via a managed IP service, not the public Internet. Comcast thinks that makes this different from other OTT offerings. Outside the home, the video is delivered via TVE, and does use the public Internet.

Stream becomes the latest in OTT offerings from content owners including Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) , Comcast's own NBC network, CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), Showtime Networks Inc. , Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and many more. And it's clearly aimed at adding revenue, not just capitalizing on a viewing trend. (See OTT & the Net New Effect.)

When it's available -- in Boston later this summer then Chicago and Seattle later this year before reaching all of Comcast's footprint in 2016 -- the service appears to target bargain cable users willing to pay a little extra for the OTT service on multiple devices in the home. Comcast targeted the budget set with its Internet Plus service, offering basic channels and HBO in a cheaper package. (See Comcast Set to Bundle Broadband & HBO.)


Read more about OTT video strategies in the OTT segment of our video section here on Light Reading.

Xfinity already enables its subscribers to access content via its web interface outside the home.

Other pay-TV providers, such as Verizon, have launched OTT services. The latter's strategy delivers content package specifically aimed at younger viewers, and has tailored its content to do that. (See Verizon, Sony Primp for OTT Debuts and Verizon Scores New OTT Content Deals.)

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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brooks7
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brooks7,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/15/2015 | 9:41:10 AM
Re: No streaming to a TV screen?
Uverse would be a violation if this is. Seven
kjsing
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kjsing,
User Rank: Moderator
7/14/2015 | 4:45:13 PM
Re: No streaming to a TV screen?
That would be a dangerous parth for Comcast to take. I think they are better off selling their service as one where customers can call Comcast if they have reception issues. In case of a Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc. service I assume it is difficult for a subscriber to point the finger to one party in case of reception issues. But, I have not tried it or had to before (knock on wood), so I am speculating on the fact that a 3rd party service would have difficulties resolving my reception issues.
cnwedit
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cnwedit,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/14/2015 | 4:39:23 PM
Re: No streaming to a TV screen?
I'm not intentionally implying a Net Neutrality violation, although that's an interesting point.

"Managed IP service" is what I was told by Comcast, but that may be the same terminlogy they use to describe their Internet service. 
kjsing
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kjsing,
User Rank: Moderator
7/14/2015 | 4:36:02 PM
Re: No streaming to a TV screen?
I was under the impression that the service is available to Comcast internet subscribers. Same IP circuit, same Docsis modem to get Comcast's streaming packets or Netflix's to a subscriber's home. Are you implying net neutrality violation?
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/14/2015 | 3:04:51 PM
Re: No streaming to a TV screen?
So then it's a super-stripped-down video package -- HBO and over-the-air channels for $15 a month. Seems like a pretty weird but possibly useful trial balloon in this context.
cnwedit
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cnwedit,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/14/2015 | 1:56:15 PM
Re: No streaming to a TV screen?
One thing that is different about this service, which Comcast is NOT calling an OTT service, by the way. 

The in-home Screen video is delivered over a managed IP network, not the public Internet, for better quality than some other services. 
kjsing
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kjsing,
User Rank: Moderator
7/14/2015 | 1:03:22 PM
No streaming to a TV screen?
How more moribund can Comcast get? Don't they realize that millenials also watch the big screen? Has Comcast heard about SmartTV, Chromecast, Firestick, Roku, AppleTV, ...? I can get Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc. on any device ... including my big screen. My son, a millenial, watches streaming content on all screens, including the big one. This latest announcement from Comcast is simply a teaser to get streaming customers to buy into their more expensive offerings only available through their set-top boxes.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/14/2015 | 8:57:18 AM
Re: Uh
So far, all the OTT offerings from conventional providers are crafted first and foremost to either maintain or improve their profit margins, rather than being created first and foremost to address what they perceive as a serious threat to their business. This latest Comcast offer is just another in a growing group of undistinguished and indistinguishable "options" -- sort of like what's happening in the runup to the 2016 US Presidential election.
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/14/2015 | 8:39:30 AM
Re: Uh
Aiming at a segment that "appears to target bargain cable users willing to pay a little extra for the OTT service on multiple devices in the home," may raise a bit of profit. I don't think I'm in that particular market segment but there must be millions who are.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/13/2015 | 4:27:08 PM
Re: Uh
My understanding is the initial version will be local broadcast TV and HBO only. Yes, at $15 a month it's cheap, but there's a lot that you're not getting for that low price.
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