There are a bunch of people who will let you buy TV, delivered over the Web, without paying the cable guy. Now the cable guy wants to sell you Web TV, too.
Comcast says it is now competing, sort of, with HBO, Showtime, Sony and Dish’s Sling TV, all of which will sell you at least one cable TV channel delivered over the Web. Comcast’s version is called Stream, and it will deliver all of the broadcast networks, plus HBO, for $15 a month.
That’s the same price HBO charges for its HBO Now service, which only delivers HBO over the Web.
Is there a catch? Yup. For now, Comcast only plans on selling the service to the 23 million people who get broadband service from Comcast.* Which means that Comcast’s cord-cutting TV service only works if you don’t cut Comcast’s cord.
This is true of every other Web TV service as well. None of them work unless you get broadband Internet, which means you need to pay Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon or another broadband provider. (If you’re lucky, you may have more than one choice — but you probably won’t be lucky.)
The difference is that Comcast is, so far, the only broadband provider providing its own Web TV service (Verizon should have one this year), and the only one selling a Web TV service tied to a specific provider. It’s not a coincidence that Comcast’s version has the most aggressive pricing, since it can afford to subsidize the cost of programming with the big profits from its broadband business.