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Comcast to Test Online TV Service

13 Jul, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Pending Comcast "Stream" OTT video service

Comcast announced it will begin beta-testing a new standalone online TV service for its Xfinity broadband-only subscribers using portable media devices.

Called “Stream,” the $15 monthly service will begin testing in Boston at the end of summer, followed by Chicago and Seattle, with plans to make it available nationwide by early 2016.

The over-the-top video service will offer about a dozen major networks plus HBO, in addition to on-demand movies, TV shows (priced separately), a cloud-based DVR and TV Everywhere access.

“Stream” mirrors Sling TV, which Dish Network launched in February featuring 20 networks, including ESPN, but no DVR, for $20 monthly. Unlike “Stream,” Sling TV is available to any Internet-connected TV via Roku and other streaming media devices.

Sony subsequently launched PlayStation Vue featuring more than 50 Channels priced from $49.99 and available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area. Showtime’s nascent OTT video service (launched last week) is available to Vue subs for an additional $10.99 a month ($8.99 for PS Plus members).

Verizon plans to bow a standalone online TV service this summer as well.

Comcast, which finished Q1 with 232,000 fewer video subscribers than it did in the prior-year period, ending with 22.3 million, continues to make efforts to appease subscribers by offering skinnier pay-TV bundles, including “Internet Plus” and “Xfinity on Campus.” Years ago Comcast launched Xfinity Streampix — a $4.99 a month add-on for Xfinity subs aimed at competing against Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus with catalog movies and TV shows.

“We’ll continue to experiment by creating offerings like Stream, so that users can choose the service that works best for them,” Mattew Strauss, EVP and GM of video services for Comcast Cable, wrote in a blog post.

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