Comcast to Launch ‘Instant TV’ Streaming Service This Fall

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Would you consider getting a cable-replacement TV service from a cable company? If so, Comcast has a proposal for you.

The company says it is rolling out an internet-based streaming video service, called Instant TV, this fall. The service will join other streaming video services from pay TV providers, including Dish’s Sling TV and DirecTV Now from AT&T. These services aim to deliver conventional cable TV channels, unlike services such as Netflix that offer individual movies and series.

The new Comcast service has already been tested in two markets, Boston and Chicago, where it was called Stream TV. The service will only be available in locations where Comcast already has a footprint. One target is the millennial audience, which may be looking for alternatives to conventional pay TV, according to the company.

Consumer Choice Is Growing

Comcast released the news about Instant TV during a conference call on second-quarter earnings earlier today. The company didn’t offer a lot of details about the service. However, it won’t require a set-top box. Instead, you’ll be able to get Instant TV directly on mobile devices, some streaming players, and maybe some smart TVs, though specific models and supported platforms weren’t announced. The service will provide access to a cloud DVR for recording shows.

Pricing, which earlier reports suggested would be in the $15- to $40-per-month range, hasn’t been finalized. The company “is still testing different price points,” Dave Watson, Comcast Cable’s president and CEO, said during the call. He stated that the service was well-received in its test markets, where it’s priced at $15 per month, plus taxes.

Watson said that while Instant TV is “ideal for certain segments and millennials,” the company’s main focus will continue to be its traditional cable TV service, X1.

“This is not something we’ll do that’s broad based in terms of our approach to the market. It’s going to be very targeted, ” Watson said. “Instant TV gives us one more part of the portfolio to go after different segments.”

Dan Rayburn, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan and executive vice president at, says that in its current form, the new service will probably have limited impact.

“But that’s not to say that the company couldn’t expand beyond its existing footprint at some time in the future,” he says. “As it is, though, it’s not really a competitive threat to nationally available services such as DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, and Sling TV, although its likely some of the media will portray it that way.”

We’ll follow up on Instant TV when Comcast reveals more details about the service. In addition to competition from other internet-delivered TV services—including new entrants such as Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV — the new service has another obstacle to overcome: Comcast’s poor reputation.

In Consumer Reports’ latest telecom survey, almost all the bigger companies, including Comcast and Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable), earned low scores in multiple categories, including value and customer service.

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