Remember Dish Network’s Sling TV service? The streaming service launched to much fanfare earlier this year and secured 100,000 subscribers during its first month of availability. For a price of $20 per month, customers can access nearly twenty channels (including ESPN and TBS, and CNN) with the option to add themed packages like Movies and Sports for $5 each.
Comcast is now launching its own service, called Stream, which gives Xfinity Internet customers access to roughly a dozen channels for $15 per month (this is paid in addition to your existing internet charges). The channel lineup will include all the major broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc.) along with fan favorites like HBO. The service will also include thousands of on-demand movies, TV Everywhere access, and cloud DVR support. Comcast is even making it easy get started with Stream, with the only steps required being to signup online and then download the Xfinity TV app.
The pricing seems fair, but the biggest downside is that Stream is only accessible to smartphones, tablets, and computers within your home and is not accessible from a cellular connection or an “outside” Wi-Fi hotspot. Sling TV, on the other hand, allows subscribers to watch TV content from anywhere, albeit one connection at a time (which is a big bummer). You also won’t be able to use Stream to watch content on your TV, which is another head scratcher for us.
Yet another downside, which will be rectified in the coming months, is that Stream is currently only being offered via a trial for Boston residents. Later this summer, test trials will expand to include Chicago and Seattle. By early 2016, Comcast hopes to have Stream available to all of its Xfinity Internet customers nationwide.
“We’ll continue to experiment by creating offerings like Stream, so that users can choose the service that works best for them,” said Matt Strauss, Comcast Executive VP and GM of Video Services. “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.”
For $15, Stream is a pretty barebones solution for customers looking to save a buck. However, if the limitations are too great for you to bare (like the inability to watch content on a TV), Comcast will gladly sell you one of its basic cable TV packages.