Industry sources confirmed that Comcast is eyeing a Q3 commercial launch of Xfinity Instant TV, an in-footprint, managed IPTV service that will feature a variety of packages and initially target broadband subscribers who don’t take a pay TV package from the MSO.
Reuters reported this week that the app-based Xfinity Instant TV will be priced starting at about $15 per month and include packages that could sell for up to $40 per month, and allow for add-ons such as ESPN. Comcast has not announced pricing or expected launch timing for Xfinity Instant TV, and whether the new offering will support the MSO’s cloud DVR service.
UPDATE: A source confirmed that Comcast's cloud DVR service will be included with Xfinity Instant TV, as it is today in the ongoing trials in Boston and Chicago.
Xfinity Instant TV, expected to be a no-contract offering that won’t require truck rolls, will initially be targeted to consumers who get broadband service from Comcast but have yet to take a pay TV service, with the hope that they will eventually upgrade to Comcast’s primary X1 pay TV platform. However, Comcast could eventually develop a version of the product that doesn’t require a broadband service, as it is already developing a video-only IP video gateway that could support Xfinity Instant TV.
Xfinity Instant TV also represents a rebrand of Stream TV, a skinny-bundle IPTV package that Comcast has been testing in select markets, including Boston and Chicago. Multichannel News reported last month that a rebrand was in the works ahead of a commercial launch later this year that would have customers access those subscriptions via the newly unified Xfinity Stream app.
The original Stream TV service being trialed costs about $15 per month and is available only on mobile devices. A source said the rebranded, commercial Xfinity Instant TV service will also support mobile apps as well as certain TV-connected devices.
Comcast is beta testing a pay TV app for the Roku platform, and has one in the works for Samsung smart TVs. Comcast is expected to eventually support other TV-connected platforms through the Xfinity TV Partner Program, which was introduced by the operator about a year ago.
Comcast has previously signaled that its streaming TV product would evolve to do more than support a small pay TV bundle.
In an interview last year, Matt Strauss, Comcast Cable’s EVP and GM of video and entertainment services, said the streaming TV service being trialed aims to be a low-friction product that could support a wide range of tiers and packages.
Stream TV "in many ways is not really just about a skinny bundle,” he said at the time. “In many respects, it’s us looking at new ways at how we market, how we activate a video subscription. for instance, if you're a high-speed data customer and you are in one of the markets where we've deployed Stream you can instantly add Stream. It doesn’t' require a truck roll, it doesn’t require additional equipment. We're able to instantly activate it for you.
“While Stream is, at the moment, comprised of a skinny bundle, the strategies behind Stream is much more around how we're going to transform the overall end-to-end customer experience, and Stream is just one example of how we are expanding into that terrain.”
Comcast is expected to market and sell Xfinity Instant TV within its traditional cable footprint. Comcast has been amassing out-of-market streaming rights to some networks, primarily through “most favored nation” clauses in its programming distribution contracts, but has been clear that the economics of an out-of-footprint OTT TV service don’t add up.