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Comcast 'Stream' Joins OTT Flood

Carol Wilson
7/13/2015

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
brooks7
7/13/2015 | 9:40:47 AM
Uh
Can you get an idea of what is actually new?

I can already stream live TV from the Xfinity App...

seven

 
cnwedit
cnwedit
7/13/2015 | 10:08:43 AM
Re: Uh
I actually note that in the story - used it a lot myself when I was a Comcast customer. And I have submitted that question to Comcast and will get an answer for you as soon as they respond. 
cnwedit
cnwedit
7/13/2015 | 10:16:10 AM
Re: Uh
And while I'm waiting for the definitive answer - one difference is there isn't a TV needed or "other devices" - which I assume means set-top boxes. 

So you could be an Xfinity broadband customer and use this to watch video on a laptop, phone or tablet in your home, without paying for the bigger cable package. 
brooks7
brooks7
7/13/2015 | 11:06:12 AM
Re: Uh
Sorry, I missed the line - it was right below an ad on my screen.

So, you think this might be a place that we can get content without a TV package?  Interesting.

seven

 
cnwedit
cnwedit
7/13/2015 | 11:07:26 AM
Re: Uh
That's what the OTT video trend is supposed to be about but again, I've asked Comcast to clarify. 
mendyk
mendyk
7/13/2015 | 11:53:25 AM
Re: Uh
This should attract tens of customers.
Atlantis-dude
Atlantis-dude
7/13/2015 | 3:46:20 PM
Re: Uh
Does this include live TV streaming as well or is it more like Netflix+Hulu ?
mendyk
mendyk
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.
kq4ym
kq4ym
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
mendyk
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.
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