Comcast knows that kids these days love their hippity-hop and their crazy smartyphones. It also knows that they love cord cutting, a newfangled way of watching TV that doesn’t involve forking over hundreds of dollars every month for a cable package. To show the world that it’s just as hip as Netflix, Comcast has unveiled a new TV streaming package called Stream that costs $15 per month and is also nearly pointless. We’ll explain why below.
OK, so: For $15 a month, Comcast will let you stream all the major broadcast networks and HBO over your computer, tablet, smartphone, etc. But there’s an important catch here: You’ll only be able to stream live TV while you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
Now, let’s think about this: Why would you want to live stream network TV in your home? If you’re in your house and you want to watch a network TV program live, you can get it by flipping on your TV and having your antenna deliver the signal… for free. And when it comes to streaming HBO, you can pay $15 per month for HBO Now and get access to it everywhere, not just within your house. So from a cord cutter’s perspective, Comcast is charging $15 per month for a less desirable version of HBO Now.
Sure, there are other benefits as well — Comcast says the package also “includes thousands of on demand movies and shows to watch home or away and even comes with access to TV Everywhere and a cloud DVR so you can record all your favorites and watch them later.” But let’s be real: Any cord cutter who just wants basic TV and HBO is much more likely to use a digital antenna to get access to basic TV and then pay HBO $15 a month for HBO Now.
And that’s not all: Re/code’s Peter Kafka has run some numbers and has found that Comcast’s new service will only be attractive to cord cutters who have no knowledge of basic arithmetic.
“Comcast sells Internet at different prices in different markets, but right now a basic broadband-only subscription in its home market of Philadelphia is $67 a month,” he writes. “Add in the cost of Stream and you’re up to $82 a month. But Comcast sells a basic TV + Broadband package, including HBO, for $45 a month. You will want to read the fine print when you compare the two offers. But you might reasonably conclude that Comcast would still rather sell you cable TV than Web TV.”
We do applaud Comcast for at least acknowledging that cord cutting is a legitimate trend these days, of course. But if it actually wants to win cord cutters’ money, it will have to seriously step up its game.