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Is Comcast Planning to Relaunch TV Streaming?

Zacks Equity Research

According to Reuters, Comcast Corp. CMCSA – the largest cable multi service operator in the U.S. and a media giant - is considering a strategic decision to rebrand its existing TV streaming service, Stream, to make it available across its footprint. The decision is aimed to counter the cord-cutting threat to the pay-TV industry.

Currently, Stream is available only in certain cities within five states — Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Hampshire. The new service called “Xfinity Instant TV” will be available in larger U.S. markets such as Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Chicago. It is expected to start in the third quarter of 2017.

Notably, as per a recent Bloomberg report, Comcast has gained rights from several unnamed cable networks to offer online TV services nationwide. The cable MSO reportedly got the rights using the ‘most favored nation’ clauses in its contracts. This, for the first time, allows Comcast to sell its video services to new cities outside its regional territories, like New York and Los Angeles.

At present, the web-based digital media market is growing rapidly. With demand for smart phones and tablets on the rise, target customers are increasingly watching videos online, (preferring them over costlier cable TV connections), which in turn, is helping the digital media brands to gain significant market traction, especially among the young generation.

Reuters stated that the Xfinity Instant TV will be priced as low as $15 a month for major broadcast networks, like ABC and NBC. However, the price could go up to $40 per month if subscribers want additional channels, like ESPN. Xfinity Instant TV will compete with AT&T Inc.’s T DirecTV Now, DISH Network Corp’s DISH Sling TV and Sony Corp.’s SNE Playstation Vue.

A major difference between Comcast’s streaming services and other companies offering is that Xfinity Instant TV will be available solely to the company’s high-speed broadband (Internet) subscribers. The service won’t count against Comcast subscribers’ Internet data caps unlike other competitor’s services. As a result, Comcast’s high-speed Internet customers will gain significant advantage over its rival firms.

Price Performance of Comcast

Year-to-date the stock price of Comcast returned 7.60%, underperforming the Zacks categorized Cable TV industry’s gain of 10.42%. At present, cable TV industry is facing a massive cord-cutting threat and Comcast is no exception to the trend. We believe that is the primary reason behind the stock currently carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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