Comcast is preparing to expand a skinny-bundled OTT service it’s been testing on the East Coast for the last two years across its footprint, sources close to the company confirmed to FierceCable.
Branded as Xfinity Instant TV, the service will be available to Comcast broadband subscribers. It will start out priced at $15 a month and include the major broadcast networks. The price point will go up to $40, with sports channels like ESPN, and Spanish networks including Telemundo and Univision, added as extra programming packages.
Unnamed sources told Reuters it expects to launch its managed-network video service in the third quarter. Company reps had no comment for FierceCable, but a source close to the company confirmed Reuters' original report.
Xfinity Instant TV is reportedly an updated version of Stream, the video service launched by Comcast two years ago as a trial product in Boston and Chicago.
Comcast executives have stridently insisted that Stream is not an OTT product, but rather a service delivered over a managed network.
With pay-TV rivals including Dish Network and AT&T launching nationally distributed OTT service, speculation has mounted that Comcast will enter the fray with a virtual MVPD product available to customers outside its footprint.
Last week, it was reported that Comcast has quietly collected national OTT rights from a number of programmers. These rights, a company rep told FierceCable last week, have been offered as part of most-favored-nation (MFN) contract requirements. If a programmer has an existing deal with Comcast that includes an MFN clause, it must offer Comcast OTT rights if, say, it makes another deal with Dish Network that includes OTT rights for Sling TV.
The gathering of these rights, however, is not an indicator that Comcast has immediate plans to distribute video outside its footprint, the rep said.
Comcast finished 2016 up 161,000 pay-TV subscribers—its first video gains in a decade. Revenue from video services was up 4% last year to $5,647 billion.
“When you really try to evaluate the business model, we have not seen one that really gives us confidence that this is a real priority for us,” Matt Strauss, Comcast’s executive VP for video services, said at a conference in November. “There is significantly more upside and profitability in going deeper and deeper into our base first versus following a video-only offering OTT.”