And proceeds to beat them over the head with the stick. Comcast is trying to earn goodwill with customers looking to free themselves from the cable set-top box. The company’s offer? Stream. Customers can stream a variety of TV channels to your phone, computer and tablet for $15 month.
HBO Go is included, as well as broadcast networks. Hmmm, $15? That sounds damn near respectable from Comcast. Wait… There’s a catch, right? Yeah, there’s a catch. First, the plan is IP-managed. What does that mean? You can use the service in your home. Not the worst deal-breaker in the world, can you infuriate us a bit more?
It’s Comcast, of course, they can. Streaming is limited to two devices simultaneously. I hope your cord-cutting also involves offloading some of your family. And then there is Stream’s closed ecosystem. It will not be available on Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV or any other set-top box.
Unless you want a migraine from the HDMI cable circus trick you’d need to get this on your TV, you just paid Comcast $15 to watch HBO on the smallest screens you own. It’s almost dumb enough to make sense.
And then the coup de grace. Comcast’s cord-cutting service requires the Comcast cord. Stream is only available to customers who get their broadband service from Comcast. So, the cord-cutting Stream requires me to keep the cord I was going to cut? It sounds more and more like Comcast.
Yes, it’s true every ‘cord-cutting’ option needs an Internet connection You’re not cutting anything. We just want to pick and choose the channels we want. Comcast happens to be the first cable provider offering its own streaming service.
Now factor in the cost. $15 for Stream is a misrepresentation. You will need basic broadband only to take advantage of streaming. That will set you back $67 per month. Toss in the cost of Stream, and you’re at $82.
One problem. Comcast offers a TV + Broadband package, including HBO for $45 per month. You want to cut ties with Comcast? One, you can’t. Two, it’ll cost you.
Broadband and TV Bundles
Most executives had worked under the impression consumers were not interested in the light bundles of a few channels plus Internet access. The rise of Dish’s Slingbox has reversed that belief. Launched this year, the satellite provider has quickly amassed more than 250,000 subscribers.
Customers want options. While I deride Comcast’s offering, they are giving customers what they want. Comcast is one of the few options, and mostly the only option for people like me, the company gets to charge what they want. It’s a seller’s market in the world of broadband.
In a perfect world, I’d love to cut the cord on cable TV. Will I? No. It quickly becomes expensive, and I might aimlessly click to the Ion channel for a day of mindless TV watching.