Comcast Slates Q3 Rollout of ‘Instant TV’

In-home, managed IPTV service primarily will target millennials, eschew traditional set-tops
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Comcast expects to have “Instant TV,” an IP-delivered, in-home, in-footprint video service that eschews traditional set-top boxes, in the third quarter of 2017, Dave Watson, Comcast Cable’s president and CEO, confirmed Thursday during the company’s earnings call.

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Comcast has been testing Instant TV (formerly known as Stream TV) in markets such as Chicago and Boston, but is gearing up for a broader rollout. Comcast hasn’t announced pricing for the commercial rollout, but earlier reports said packages could range from $15 to $40 per month and allow for add-ons such as ESPN.

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Instant TV will be offered on mobile devices and certain TV-connected devices, and will support a cloud DVR. Though it will be an in-home, Title VI IP-delivered cable TV product, it’s also expected to support authenticated access to some programming that customers can access while on the go.

“It’s ideal for certain segments and millennials,” Watson said. “We’re going to compete vigorously across the board for every segment.”

He stressed that Comcast will continue to focus on X1, its full-freight pay TV offering. About 55% of Comcast’s video base is now on X1, compared to 40% a year ago. Comcast lost 45,000 video subs in Q2, ending the period with 21.47 million.

“This [Instant TV] is not something that we’ll do broad-based in terms of our approach to the market,” Watson said. “This is going to be very targeted, primarily digital in nature in how we do it.”

Notably, Instant TV will be sold in Comcast’s traditional cable footprint. Comcast has repeatedly stressed that the economics of an out-of-footprint OTT offering don’t add up, even though it has been locking in rights to distribute some programming on an OTT basis.

RELATED: Comcast Has OTT Rights to Offer Some Channels Nationwide: Report

Comcast continued to see strong results from broadband, as it added 140,000 residential high-speed internet subs in Q2, extending that total to 23.36 million.

And Comcast is confident that it can continue to grow that part of the business.

“There is significant runway ahead in broadband,” Watson said, noting that penetration stands at just 45%. Comcast also expects to make 1-Gig speeds available using DOCSIS 3.1 across the majority of its footprint by year-end.

In addition to providing faster speeds (55% of Comcast’s residential broadband subs take tiers of 100 Mbps ore greater), Comcast will be looking to differentiate with “xFi,” its new in-home WiFi platform that is powered by its lineup of integrated gateways, Watson said.