It’s easier now to avoid paying for cable than it ever has been, with services like Netflix and Hulu offering television viewers alternate methods of accessing their desired content. Companies like Comcast are well aware of these huge changes reshaping the industry, and now we’re seeing their attempts to turn the tables.
Today marks the launch of Comcast’s Stream TV service, which will initially be offered to the company’s Internet-only customers in Boston and Chicago. For $15 bucks a month, subscribers will be able to watch a library of on demand content as well as live streaming television from channels like HBO, ABC and FOX.
Crucially, the service is exempt from Comcast’s monthly data caps.
Stream TV does not require a cable box or subscription, but it’s beamed out to homes in much the same way, via the Comcast IP gateway. As a result, the company can easily differentiate the service from other use, and prevent any data usage from contributing to the user’s overall allowance.
It’s clear that Comcast feels that cord cutters are an audience worth chasing after. In Q3 of 2015, the company lost 48,000 cable customers but gained some 320,000 new broadband Internet subscribers.
The past few years have made it easier than ever to access TV shows over the Internet, with everything from an Xbox One to the affordable Chromecast delivering online content to the living room. However, Comcast has been criticized by Netflix for its data cap practices, and the announcement of Stream TV seems poised to reignite those debates.
The target audience for Stream TV seems to be consumers currently caught in an expensive Comcast cable package, but it remains to be seen whether it has enough clout to compete in such a competitive market. When Comcast’s Internet service isn’t being used to access the service, only recorded shows and on demand content is available.
A national rollout of Stream TV is expected to follow the trial in Boston and Chicago.