Q. I read that Comcast may offer a streaming service next year like Sling TV and DIRECTV Now. But I thought Comcast already had a streaming service. Am I wrong? — Thomas, Prince Frederick, Maryland.
A. Thomas, you are referring to a recent holiday message from NBC Universal chief Steve Burke to his employees in which he hints that Comcast next year will introduce a live streaming service similar to Dish’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DIRECTV Now. (Note: Comcast owns NBC.).
But Thomas, you are not wrong. Comcast already offers a live streaming service that’s separate from its traditional video service. It’s called Instant TV and it costs $20 a month.
So what’s the big deal about Burke’s message?
Instant TV is not quite the same as DIRECTV Now and Sling TV in a number of ways..
One, the service requires an XFINITY-compatible cable modem or Wireless Gateway, which means you need to be a Comcast Internet subscriber.
Two, you have to use the Xfinity Stream app on your smartphone, tablet or Roku device, or the Stream web site at xfinity.com/stream on your computer. No Fire TV. No Apple TV. No PlayStation or XBox.
And three, many channels on Instant TV can not be seen outside your home, unlike Sling TV and DIRECTV Now, which can be viewed while on the go.
Presumably, the Net TV offering that Burke is teasing for 2019 would be available to all consumers, not just Comcast subscribers, and it would offer full mobility.
By the way, Comcast’s current $18 Instant TV basic plan includes your local channels. If you want to expand your lineup, Instant TV offers three add-on plans:
1. Kids & Family, which includes 13 more channels for an extra $10 a month. The channels include the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and other kid faves.
2. Entertainment, which provides 22 more channels for an extra $15 a month. The channels include FX, USA Network and AMC, among other basic cable favorites.
3. News & Sports, which offers 15 more channels for an extra $35 a month. The channels include your regional sports channels, ESPN, CNN and Fox News.
The Instant TV service also includes a DVR that permits the recording of two shows at the same time with storage up to 20 hours of programming.
And if you want to know more about Comcast’s Instant TV streaming service, you can check out its web site here.
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— Phillip Swann