A pair years in the past, I used to be within the uncommon place of defending Comcast in a column about cord cutting.
For $15 per 30 days, the cable large was testing a brand new streaming TV service that delivered all 4 main broadcast networks, HBO, and a choice of motion pictures from its Streampix service. Some observers laughed at Comcast’s efforts on the time, but it surely appeared like a stable deal, provided that HBO was charging the identical $15 per 30 days for entry to its streaming service alone.
Now, Comcast is rolling out a streaming TV bundle all through its nationwide cable footprint. However this new service—dubbed Xfinity Instant TV—is nothing just like the one Comcast began testing in 2015. Though it has just a few redeeming qualities, Xfinity Instantaneous TV is weighed down by arcane restrictions on how and the place you’ll be able to watch TV, and in lots of circumstances, it’s dearer than different streaming bundles.
Xfinity Instantaneous TV: The breakdown
Comcast’s streaming service is just accessible to Xfinity web subscribers, but it surely has an analogous construction to Dish’s Sling TV: Subscribers begin with a base bundle of channels, and so they can increase their lineup with themed add-ons.
In Comcast’s case, the fundamental plan prices $18 per 30 days, and consists of 5 nationwide broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and CW—together with PBS stations, instructional and authorities channels, C-SPAN, QVC, and HSN.
Up to now, so good. No different streaming bundle affords all the main broadcast networks at such a low beginning value, and this seems to be the one option to watch a reside stream of C-SPAN with out conventional pay-TV authentication. In case you can’t decide up broadcast networks with an antenna, and you’ve got web service from Comcast, this could be a viable different.
Simply don’t anticipate to save lots of a lot cash on different cable channels, as the prices for Comcast’s add-ons shortly pile up.
The most cost effective add-on is a youngsters bundle, which for $10 per 30 days, consists of Cartoon Community, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, MTV, Nationwide Geographic Channel, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, NickToons, Common Youngsters, TeenNick, and TLC. Nevermind that MTV and TLC haven’t any actual enterprise being in a TV bundle for teenagers; you’re paying for them anyway.
Xfinity Instantaneous TV additionally affords an leisure add-on for $15 per 30 days, with A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, E!, Meals Community, FX, FXX, Hallmark Channel, Historical past, HGTV, Lifetime, OWN, Syfy, TBS, TNT, TV One, USA, and VH1. That sounds mildly interesting till you notice DirecTV Now affords all of those channels in its $35-per-month base bundle, which additionally consists of broadcast networks, all the main kids’s channels, and the big-three cable information networks.
Talking of cable information, Comcast has made the inexplicable choice to lump sports activities and information into a large $30-per-month add-on, which incorporates CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Information, ESPNU, Fox Enterprise, Fox Information, Fox Sports activities 1, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports activities, NFL Community, and regional sports activities networks. Once more, different bundles provide these similar channels for lower than Comcast’s mixed $48-per-month asking value: Hulu with Live TV has all however the NFL Community for $40 per 30 days, whereas PlayStation Vue has the whole lot—plus a number of sports activities channels that Comcast lacks, similar to NBA TV—for $45 per 30 days.
As for premium networks, Comcast prices an additional $15 per 30 days for HBO, which is identical value as a standalone HBO Now subscription. Starz prices an additional $12 per 30 days, which by some means is $Three-per-month dearer than Starz’s standalone service.
Comcast deserves credit score for one factor: Xfinity Instantaneous TV has no sneaky charges. The cable large’s typical broadcast TV payment and regional sports activities charges are constructed into the marketed value, and you’ll stream on Roku gamers, cellular gadgets, and net browsers with no set-top field charges.
However that’s the norm on the planet of streaming bundles. And out of doors of some edge circumstances, Comcast’s competitors will probably be less expensive, or will present much more channels in your cash.
A dinky DVR and fewer
Comcast isn’t attempting to make its precise service aggressive with different streaming bundles, both. Xfinity TV comes with a bunch of different restrictions and limitations that cut back its attraction.
Probably the most egregious is the cloud DVR, which incorporates simply 20 hours of recording time. Each different streaming TV bundle available on the market affords no less than double that, and Comcast makes issues worse with a scheduling restrict of two applications at a time. No different streaming bundle locations limits on simultaneous recordings.
System assist can also be missing, with tv playback solely on supported Roku gadgets. As a substitute of constructing apps for different streaming gadgets, Comcast is asking TV and set-top field makers to do the job themselves. That’s an enormous ask, and thus far no different streaming gamers have signed on.
And in contrast to different streaming bundles, Xfinity TV isn’t solely moveable. As TechCrunch reports, some channels gained’t provide reside or on-demand streaming outdoors the house due to how Comcast negotiated the rights.
Given all these drawbacks, it’s notable that Comcast isn’t planning to market Xfinity TV to present clients and even promote it a lot in any respect. Fairly than competing with different streaming bundles, Comcast will seemingly use Xfinity TV as a final resort to retain cable clients fed up with their bloated bundles, hidden charges, and tools rental prices.
Comcast might even show profitable, for the reason that service is exempt from the 1TB knowledge caps that the corporate now enforces in lots of markets. With no likelihood of repercussions from a consumer-hostile FCC, Comcast can now ship streaming video over a personal portion of its cable system, whereas dangling the specter of data caps and overage prices in entrance of potential pay-TV defectors. In that situation, Xfinity Instantaneous TV may look like a reasonably whole lot—however for all of the mistaken causes.