It seems like, after months (maybe years) of rumblings, TV is finally starting to change in a big way. Already this year we've seen Dish launch Sling (a streaming TV service), Sony partially launch Playstation Vue (ditto), and both HBO and Showtime launch streaming, no cable-subscription-required versions of their channels.
Over the weekend another streaming TV service was announced, and what makes it really unusual is the source: Comcast. "Comcast Stream" costs $15 and includes HBO (generally $15 by itself) and live network feeds. Channels include ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, and Univision as well as, potentially, local channels. The service comes with a "Cloud DVR" that lets you 'record' shows to watch later.
If it sounds too good to be true...well lets talk caveats. First of all you have to get your broadband connection through Comcast. Second it only works on your home network (so no catching up on your favorite shows from the local coffee shop). Third, you can access it via mobile devices or browser, but there are no apps for streaming boxes or consoles, yet.
According to Ars Technica Stream even acts as a cable subscription when it comes to apps and network websites that ask you to log in through your cable provider before they give you access to their content (which, as Ars points out, alleviates the 2nd and 3rd caveats somewhat).
So why is Comcast making this offer? My theory is that they're trying to get some additional cash out of the upcoming 'cord-never' generation. Cord-never is a phrase coined to describe young people who have never paid for an expensive cable TV subscription, probably never will, but who probably do pay for broadband. An additional $15 to get HBO and live network feeds for news and sports is probably an easier sell than asking them to sign up for a cable subscription that comes with a set-top box, an annual contract, and 300 channels that they'll never watch.
Comcast Stream hits Boston at the end of this summer and the company expects it to be available everywhere they offer broadband by early 2016.