Comcast Turns Off Streampix

Mari Silbey
News Analysis
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video

Streampix will stream pix no more, officially becoming a casualty of the US subscription video-on-demand wars.

In a filing this week with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (hat tip DSLReports), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) declared that it's winding down its Streampix over-the-top video offering. Citing minimal interest from subscribers, Comcast said "both the site and the app are being decommissioned, and the standalone offer was discontinued. Going forward, the Streampix service will simply be part of the Xfinity TV app and website, like other VoD offerings."

Comcast launched Streampix in 2012, but its marketing of the $4.99-per-month OTT service has been relatively light. The company also hasn't matched the competition with its Streampix video catalog, and according to user reports, the online library has only grown weaker over time. If Comcast was trying to out-Netflix Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), it's clear that the strategy simply didn't work.

The cable giant may not be alone either. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) hasn't released numbers on its Redbox Instant by Verizon streaming service, but there are indications that subscriber numbers are low. In May, The Wall Street Journal suggested that Verizon not only hasn't been successful in its joint venture with Redbox Automated Retail LLC , but also that the company has no clear strategy for righting that particular ship. (See Redbox Falls Flat in Streaming Space.)

Keep up with the latest in OTT video developments on our dedicated ott video content channel here on Light Reading.

Despite such ominous signs, there are still other operators who are trying to make streaming services successful. Only last month, Canada's two largest pay-TV providers -- Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Shaw Communications Inc. -- announced that they will launch a new online VoD service called shomi for C$8.99 per month. In the US, Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has promised a new OTT offering before the end of the year, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has teamed up with The Chernin Group to invest in several online video companies, including the YouTube Inc. channel Fullscreen and Demand Media Inc. 's Creative Bug. (See Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix and AT&T Joins OTT Video Parade.)

One big question that emerges as Comcast wraps up the Streampix venture is whether the cable company would ever be willing to do a carriage deal directly with Netflix. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) was apparently in talks to carry the Netflix service on its set-top boxes, but those discussions were put on hold when Comcast announced its intent to acquire TWC earlier this year. However, since that time, several mid-sized US cable operators have added Netflix as a set-top video app, including Atlantic Broadband , Grande Communications and RCN Corp. (See Comcast-TWC Deal Stalls Netflix Cable Push and Netflix Streams Onto US Cable.)

Netflix is formidable as a foe, and there may be something to that old adage: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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