A new Comcast streaming TV service, Instant TV will debut in the second half of 2017, the company confirmed on its 2Q17 earnings report conference call today. Comcast has discussed this service previously, calling it Stream TV in the past.
Instant TV will be an IP based streaming service, delivered across broadband. But Comcast will only offer it on their private network on an in-market basis. It will not be offered over-the-top outside of Comcast territories. Details are a bit slim, but previous reports outline a “skinny” channel line-up, including local broadcast channels and VoD content, priced somewhere in the $15 price range. None of this was confirmed on today’s call.
Comcast says the product is aimed at differing customer segments like millennials, who may not embrace the traditional Xfinity pay-TV service. Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson confirmed today that Instant TV will not require a traditional set-top-box. Presumably, it will be delivered to streaming devices connected to TVs, and mobile devices in the home.
“We’re going to compete vigorously, across the board for every segment, and so we do break it down, whether it’s students, whether its millennials, so we’re seeing really good benefits,” said Dave Watson, Comcast Cable CEO on the earnings call. “For us we’re going to stay very focused on our strengths.”
The strategy aims to offer an alternative to traditional pay-TV services and compete with the growing number of streaming OTT services like Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW. A bundled Instant TV with Xfinity broadband may be more appealing to a millennial, than adding Sony’s PlayStation Vue TV service would be the hope. Comcast lost 45K residential video subscribers in 2Q17, but doesn’t seem particularly worried about the threat from OTT competition. The integration of their TV operating system X1, which now reaches 55% of their TV base is seen as a good competitive weapon. It offers voice search and seamless Netflix integration, among many other desirable benefits.
Parent company Comcast is in a unique position. They are a top 3 pay-TV provider in the U.S., but also own extensive programming through NBCUniversal. They have valuable insight into both sides of the fence – traditional pay-TV and the emerging streaming TV segment, or virtual MVPDs. They are also the largest broadband provider in the country. They appear to be executing a ‘cover all your bases’ strategy, and Instant TV is the newest tactic.