Q. I have Comcast, but I am bugged about paying for a set-top, which is very clunky in my living room to boot! Is there any way to get Comcast without the old set-top, like a streaming service or something? Like Sling TV, maybe? — Mags, Boston.
Mags, you’ll be happy to know that Comcast does indeed offer a live streaming service that’s separate from its traditional video service. It’s called Instant TV and it costs $20 a month, which is significantly less than the cost of a basic Comcast video service that requires a set-top.
There are some catches, however.
One, the service requires an XFINITY-compatible cable modem or Wireless Gateway, which means you need to be a Comcast Internet subscriber.
Two, you’ll probably 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. There’s no Fire TV. No Apple TV. No PlayStation or XBox. (There are some compatible Samsung Smart TVs; check here for a list.)
And three, some channels on Instant TV can not be seen outside your home, meaning the service is not exactly TV Everywhere.
Now, if we haven’t lost you after those three little obstacles, you might be asking, what do you get for your $20 a month?
The $20 Instant TV basic plan includes your local channels. Yes, that’s it. Your local channels. However, I should note that, in many markets, Comcast offers just about every local and independent channel that’s available. So you not only get CBS, ABC, Fox, the CW and NBC, you’ll get the Spanish-language channels and those obscure independent channels that offer old movies and TV shows.
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 $36.50 a month. The channels include your regional sports channels, ESPN, CNN and Fox News.
(You can also add HBO for $15 a month, or Cinemax, Cinemax, or Starz for $12 a month each.)
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 you can stream live TV on two different devices at the same time.
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