With cord cutting becoming a palpable threat, Comcast is testing a streaming strategy to keep customers from dropping all their cable channels. Called Stream, it will offer to its own broadband customers an alternative to a cable subscription a package of broadcast channels and HBO streamed to their devices. And at $15 dollars a month, the cost for just HBO, the consumer gets that plus ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and a few other channels, plus on-demand and cloud DVR features. If it sounds a little bit like Aereo, it could certainly be confused for it. One can only wonder if the broadcast networks agreed to this streaming solution. And why shouldn't current Comcast cable and broadband subscribers be entitled to the same streaming service as part of their more expensive subscription.
Comcast plans to rollout the service first in Boston before expanding it into other markets according to Huffington Post. Will Comcast customers who have dropped or plan to drop their cable package while keeping their broadband service like this low cost alternative or have they already found value from other current OTT streaming services like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix? I look forward to seeing the marketing that Comcast employs to sell this new OTT service. How fast it succeeds or fails in Boston may likely change the timing of other markets.
One thing is clear, cable networks like ESPN and other expensive networks may not like that their channel will no longer be in the "streaming basic line-up". Lawyers may be pouring over contracts to see if this new tier violates current programming contracts. As my previous blog noted, ESPN and others are already seeing a loss in basic subs due to cord cutting. This new Comcast Stream service could contribute to the percentage of cord cutters.