Everyone's looking to give people more cordcutting options these days – even the guys providing the cord.
Comcast has just announced a new streaming service, which it hopes to make available to the entire country by early next year. It's called Stream, and it will launch in beta in Boston at the end of the summer and then jump to Chicago and Seattle.
Like Dish's Sling TV, Comcast's Stream lets users watch live TV from a handful of major networks (about a dozen, says Comcast) – including HBO. It will also offer "thousands of on demand movies and shows to watch home or away and even comes with access to TV Everywhere and a cloud DVR." It will cost $15 a month, which is exactly what HBO charges for HBO NOW, its standalone streaming service.
Ok, so here's the catch(es):
– You have to be a Xfinity internet customer to use Stream, which means that Comcast is offering a cordcutting TV service but only for those who use its cord. Not all that surprising, but Comcast is the first major provider to throw its hat in the web TV ring so it is notable.
– You can only stream on laptops, tablets, and phones. As of now, Stream offers no way to stream on TVs.
– Stream will only work in your home.
– The only cable network that Stream can boast in HBO. All of the other networks are broadcast, which anyone can stream for free, in HD, with a $25 antenna. Stream doesn't have ESPN, and as we all know sports are a huge reason why people stick with old school cable. Competitors like Sling TV have sports packages that include multiple ESPN and other sports networks.
"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, so that users can choose the service that works best for them. So if you love TV and spend most of your time with the screen in your lap as opposed to the one on the wall, Stream may just be the thing for you," says Comcast VP of video services Matt Strauss.
There's plenty to be meh about with Comcast's new offering, but it is just another in a growing set of options for cordcutters. If you get your broadband with Comcast already, and you're thinking about cutting the cord and snagging HBO NOW, for instance, this option could be more attractive as it also throws in some other networks and bonus content.
But for now, Comcast's web TV offering looks to be too restrictive – especially when compared with some of the other options out there.