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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comcast / NBC Universal launching Netflix-like streaming service

"Oceans Eleven"

From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest industry news.

With an eye toward holding onto current subscribers and attracting new ones who may be tempted by Netflix, Comcast Corp. is rolling out a new subscription streaming service that boasts a mix of TV re-runs and older films.

Called Xfinity Streampix, the service launches this week and allows users to watch content on televisions and Internet-connected digital devices like smartphones.

It will be free to customers who get their video, Internet and phone service from Comcast. People who get only their TV from the company will pay $5 per month. Netflix streaming costs $8 per month.
While the new service inevitably drew comparisons to Netflix, and spurred a 3% drop in that company's stock Tuesday, there are notable differences. Comcast's initial agreements with Walt Disney Co., Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and NBC Universal (which the cable giant owns) provide it with less content than Netflix currently offers.

Xfinity Streampix users will get access to television shows like "30 Rock" and "Grey's Anatomy" and films like "Brokeback Mountain" and "Ocean's Eleven," but can't watch TV shows like "Mad Men" and movies like "Drive" that are exclusively on Netflix.

In addition, while anyone with an Internet connection and a digital device can access Netflix, Xfinity Streampix is available only to the people who live in areas covered by Comcast. Currently, there are 23.2 million homes that have Comcast television service, including many in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.  Los Angeles is not part of the Comcast footprint, which also covers Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami and Houston.

"We have no plans to take this outside our footprint," Marcien Jenckes, Comcast's general manager of video services, said in an interview. "It is not at all our intention to compete with Netflix."

Among cable companies, Comcast has been the most aggressive in adding new services to respond to the explosion of portable devices while trying to retain its core customers.

"This is an extension of our strategy to give consumers the content that they love where and when they want it," Jenckes said. "This just makes our existing subscriptions more valuable."

Netflix is not the only threat. The service could make Comcast more attractive, in the company's service areas, than subscriptions offered by satellite companies Dish Network and DirecTV and telephone companies Verizon and AT&T.

This new service adds to the more than 75,000 TV shows and movies currently available on Comcast's Xfinity On Demand service. Users pay for each film or episode through that more traditional video on-demand offering, which features more recent movies than the subscription package.

Comcast fourth quarter profit jumps 26%; NBC and film lag
Netflix discussing deal with ex-HBO Films chief Colin Callender
Robert Rodriguez joins Magic Johnson, Sean Combs in Comcast TV group

-- Meg James and Ben Fritz

Photo: Brad Pitt and George Clooney in "Ocean's Eleven." Credit: Bob Marshak / Warner Bros.


Anonymous said...

That is great that many home cable providers are now providing "netflix" type services. When I had Cox, I had the OnDemand which was similar to a degree. However, Now that I have discovered various websites and even the channels direct websites that offer the same programing for free, why would i want to pay additional services for cable charges? I have since cust back my cable to basic TV as I have the internet to watch TV on, and best part, there is no additional charge to it besides my monthly internet bill! :-)

Joseph Contreras HN 4049 COM 101

Nicole_Tee said...

“Comcast has been the most aggressive in adding new services to respond to the explosion of portable devices while trying to retain its core customers” is an exaggeration, and I say this because if Comcast were being aggressive about new services for their subscribers then they would have been along side DISH over a year and a half ago. DISH launched Sling Technology to their subscribers over a year and a half ago and it truly offers live video content to be viewed on multiple mobile devices outside of the home (something that Comcast has yet to achieve). DISH also launched their Blockbuster @Home service, which offers streaming and DVD, Blu-ray and video game rentals; this came out last year. So although it’s great for Comcast subscribers that they’re finally being offered new services, I still wouldn’t, by any means, call it “aggressive” action. I may work for DISH, but even if I didn’t I would still be a DISH subscriber because they tend to get newer and more advanced technology before others.