While Apple’s rumored Web TV service is expected to launch with new hardware and software later this year, Comcast has shown its cards on what it describes as an “experiment” to offer live TV streaming to its Internet subscribers without cable packages. Stream, a $15/month Xfinity add-on, will allow Comcast Internet subscribers to view live and on-demand streaming television from “about a dozen networks” including HBO and other major broadcast networks. Comcast says Stream will be available on “laptops, tablets and phones,” but subscribers will be restricted to their Xfinity WiFi at home to access the service from those devices.
That restriction makes streaming TV shows and movies when traveling not possible, instead mimicking the current restrictions that cable subscribers face with tablets and phones instead of TV sets.
A cloud-based DVR feature will be available, however, which Comcast says will let subscribers record up to 20 hours of content for viewing at home and away.
As Comcast describes Stream as experimental, the company is rolling out the feature in limited waves. Xfinity subscribers in Boston will be among the first to sign up for Stream by the end of summer with Chicago and Seattle promised next. Comcast says it plans to roll out Stream everywhere Xfinity is available early next year.
While Apple’s offering is expected to include roughly 25 channels for $30-$40 month, Stream promises live access to ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX, The CW, Telemundo, and more for $15/month. Including live local programming has been said to be a goal for Apple’s own package.
Aside from a beta live TV streaming service, Comcast has also introduced a fast-but-expensive home Internet service option to Xfinity customers. Ars Technica reports that Comcast’s super high speed 2Gbps home Internet service will be officially priced at $299.95/month and include as much as $1,000 in fees for setup and activation, and yes, Stream will still be an additional $15/month if interested.