Following a trial period that ran several months, Comcast has gone live with Stream TV, an IP-based skinny bundle service for broadband-only customers that features the major broadcast networks, HBO, access to “thousands” of VOD titles and the MSO’s Cloud DVR service.
The rollout covers the Greater Boston Region, which includes eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Comcast expects to make Stream TV available across its footprint by “early 2016.”
Comcast introduced Stream TV in July, and at the time said it expected to debut the service in Boston in late summer and then bring it to Chicago and Seattle.
Comcast is delivering Stream TV via its managed IP network (meaning it's not a pure "over-the-top" service) to Web browsers, smartphones and tablets via the MSO's Xfinity TV app. While the offering does provide access to some TV Everywhere apps that work on TV-connected platforms, the core Xfinity TV app is not currently offered on devices like Roku players, the Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV, making it a mobile-first type of offering.
Update: A Comcast official said the Stream TV service support two concurrent video streams per subscriber. The Cloud DVR component lets Stream TV subs record 20 hours of programming. According to the fine print on the new site dedicated to Stream TV, it appears that Comcast is targeting its next launch at Chicago.
Comcast said Stream TV, which does not require a costly truck roll is offered on a contract-free basis, includes the broadcast TV fee, plus local taxes and fees, which vary by market. To prime the pump, Comcast is offering the first month of Stream TV for free.
Targeted to cord-cutters and young, millennial audiences, Comcast’s new offering emerges at it and other MSOs look to turn the tide on video subscriber losses. Even without Stream TV, Comcast’s video metrics have been improving. In the third quarter, Comcast shed 48,000 video subs, nearly half the 81,000 it lost in the prior year period and marking its best Q3 in nine years.
Comcast is the latest MVPD to branch out with skinny bundles and offerings tailored for the cord-cutting and cord-nevers crowd.
Dish Network has Sling TV, which offers a core package for $20 per month that does not include broadcast TV stations. Time Warner Cable has pushed ahead with an IPTV trial in New York City, Mt. Vernon and New Jersey that relies on Roku players and delivers three different video service tiers to customers who take the MSO’s residential broadband service. Charter is testing a service called Spectrum TV Streamthat starts at $12.99 per month, and Cablevision Systems has created a set of tiers geared for cord-cutters.
"We want to make ordering and accessing Stream TV as simple as possible for our customers and let them start watching favorite content as quickly as possible," said Matt Strauss, EVP and GM, video services at Comcast Cable, in a statement. "It's an exciting time to be a TV fan – there is more quality content than ever and seemingly limitless ways to keep up with all the shows and movies people are talking about. We'll continue to experiment by creating offerings like Stream TV so that users can choose the service that works best for them."
"Interested Xfinity Internet-only customers can immediately start enjoying the service by using the Xfinity TV app or the online portal. Stream TV is yet another choice for consumers to enjoy entertainment on their terms,” added Steve Driscoll, VP of sales and marketing for Comcast’s Greater Boston Region.