Comcast Announces Xfinity Streampix Streaming Media Service

Feb 23 2012

In a move that is sure to set off alarms for network neutrality proponents everywhere, Comcast has announced Xfinity Streampix, a new streaming media service intended to compete with Netflix. The new service will be bundled into Comcast's higher-end TV tiers for free, or can be added to a lower-end tier for $4.99 a month. The service will initially offer a selection of older movies and previous seasons of TV shows that had been available on Comcast's Xfinity VOD service, but is expected to expand over time. Comcast is also planning to make the service broadly available on mobile devices and on the Xbox 360 in the future as well. With Redbox and Verizon moving into the streaming media service market, and Blockbuster expanding its service with Samsung, the market has suddenly gotten very crowded, but Comcast's move could prove the most dangerous of all for every company interested in streaming media. Comcast's service is cheaper than any current offering, and almost certainly cheaper than the forthcoming services, and it will be bundled into a single bill. The new service will also help bolster a cable giant, a major representative of the industry model that movie and TV production studios have become quite comfortable with over the last 30 years and would probably prefer to see continue to dominate going forward versus an aggressive newcomer such as Netflix. The real test will be whether Comcast uses its position as a broadband service provider to exempt its own streaming service from consumption caps, or perhaps more importantly, if regulators allow Comcast to do so.

Xfinity Logo

Comcast is rolling out a new streaming on-demand offering called Xfinity Streampix, which will bring more library content to subscribers that pay for its high-end double- and triple-play packages. For those who subscribe to more basic packages, the streaming service will be priced at $4.99 above their current rate.

GigaOm

Comments

I don't see any information that this service will get any sort of preferential treatment over other content coming down the consumer's broadband service. In this case, why would net neutrality proponents feel threatened by the service offering?

I can only see this as good news for consumers. More choice and competition in the streaming market is a win.

Aaron Ledger wrote:

I don't see any information that this service will get any sort of preferential treatment over other content coming down the consumer's broadband service. In this case, why would net neutrality proponents feel threatened by the service offering?

It's all about the last sentence Matt wrote.  Technically, that's not related to net neutrality, but that's what companies are looking to do in order to effectively squeeze out the competition without running afoul of regulators.  This is the cable company saying, "We don't give preferential treatment to our own content.  All we're doing is, simply as an added benefit to our cable subscribers, we don't count anything they stream directly from us against their monthly data cap.  See?  It's a win-win for everyone!"

Obviously, if they don't count their own streaming content over the broadband pipe against the cap, they are giving themselves preferential treatment. I just didn't see anything in the source article that indicated Comcast was going down this route.

You are right Aaron. There is no mention in the source article nor do I state that Comcast plans to do so.

The service is exactly the sort of service that network neutrality proponents were concerned that cable providers would eventually launch and then provide preferential treatment to shut out competitors such as Netflix whether by degrading data speeds for competing services or by exempting their own services from bandwidth caps. Comcast in particular has already been called on packet-shaping and throttling in relation to BitTorrent and has promised not use such tactics in the future, but as Comcast was also the first major ISP to institute bandwidth caps, there will be a great deal of interest in whether Comcast, publicly or otherwise, exempts their own service. As I state in the article, in assessing just how dangerous a competitor Comcast will be, "The real test will be whether Comcast uses its position as a broadband service provider to exempt its own streaming service from consumption caps, or perhaps more importantly, if regulators allow Comcast to do so."

Personally, I don't think Comcast will. They are under so much scrutiny, that doing so secretly will be all but impossible, and in the current economic climate and with so much attention being given to privacy and consumer rights, Comcast is not likely to want to test the FCC's resolve on a new round of net neutrality regulations by trying to act publicly. Comcast managed to avoid any major new regulations last time, but the FCC and Congress may not be quite as quick to butt heads this time.

I agree. With the cap in place, there are too many people watching that would notice and complain.

You really think they're going to admit that right off the bat and invite criticism like this?

Is this replacing the Xfinity on demant app for the xbox 360?

It sounds like it will be a separate app. It looks like Comcast's goal is to present Streampix as a separate service for "content" legacy with Xfinity VOD for new releases.

Thanks for the reply.  I hope you're right.  The xfinity app actually looks pretty good based on that youtube clip.  Hopefully we'll find out on the 28th.

Meh, it would cost me extra. And it doesn't sound like a compelling reason to switch from Netflix.

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