Comcast Launches New Xfinity Instant TV Streaming Service

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: xfinity, streaming tv, iptv, data caps, cord cutting, Comcast

Comcast is hoping to entice its internet only customers to add cable TV and its current cable TV customers to not fully cut the cord with its new Xfinity Instant TV. The new streaming TV service starts at $18 (plus those darn broadcast/TV fees Comcast loves so much) and will soon be available to all current Comcast broadband subscribers. The base package includes access to local broadcast channels, a video on demand library, and a cloud DVR with 20 hours of storage. Users can stream live and on demand TV and movies using the Xfinity Stream application on mobile devices and Rokus, the browser-based website on desktops, or TV Everywhere logins at the individual networks' websites or apps (e.g. HBO Go).

Xfinity Stream.png

For those looking for a bit more TV than what they can get over the air with an antenna, Comcast is offering three add-on packages for additional monthly fees as well as allowing users to add HBO and Starz for the standard rates ($15 for HBO). The tiers are laid out as follows:

Limited Basic (base package)

Popular broadcast channels (vary by market) including ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, Unimas, Univision, C-SPAN, and other public, education, and government (PEG) channels.

  • Entertainment (+ $15/month):
    • A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, E!, Food Network, FX, FXX, Hallmark Channel, History, HGTV, Lifetime, OWN, SyFy, TBS, TNT, TV One, USA, and VHI
  • Kids and Family (+ $10/month):
    • Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, NickToons, Universal Kids, TeenNick, and TLC
  • Sports and News (+ $30/month):
    • CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, ESPNU, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Sports 1, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports, NFL Network, and regional sports that vary on market

Comcast has broken its channels into three main add-on packages that allow potential cord cutters to pick and choose what they want to pay for (though it's not full a la carte yet). Those packages are a bit pricey though if you only want some of the channels in the package, particularly the Sports and News package at $30 a month (and likely having to also pay the Sports broadcast fee regular cable customers have to pay whether they watch sports or not) which would be better broken out as separate packages and even the sports package could have regional channels broken out to its own add-on.

In another interesting twist though, Comcast announced that its new Xfinity Instant TV service will not count against users' data caps giving the service a marked advantage over IPTV competitors like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and others. If you live in a capped market, Instant TV starts to look a bit better price wise if you are a heavy data user as you could avoid data cap overage charges as a result of TV viewing.

On the other hand caveats include a limited DVR (though you can watch On Demand usually the next day) that can only record two shows simultaneously and live TV is, for the most part, limited to your own in-home network. When you are outside of your home network you will be limited to on demand streaming and recordings depending on licensing rights.

I think Comcast is hoping that the new service will entice cable TV holdouts wanting cheaper bills to stay in some fashion as well as entice internet only users and users that have cut the cord already to use Instant TV as a sort of gateway drug to traditional cable. Since they ahve to pay the same TV fees (though no fees for boxes), they might as well upgrade to X1 for a bit more and get more channels and more DVR--or at least that's the idea. I'm not convinced that plan will work though with the current pricing though. I suppose we will just have to wait and see!

What are your thoughts on Xfinity Instant TV? If you are interested in the service, you can check availability in your market (and Internet only customers can get a free 30-day trial) at www.xfinity.com/instant-tv.

Verizon ALLSET Pre-Paid Plans Offer Rollover Mobile Data

Subject: Mobile | March 4, 2014 - 01:33 AM |
Tagged: verizon, rollover data, mobile data, data caps, allset

Verizon has taken the wraps off of a new pre-paid cell phone plan called “ALLSET.” The plans offer unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and 500MB of base data for $35/month for feature phones and $45 a month for smartphones. At first glance, they are pretty standard fare, and not the cheapest pre-paid option either. However, Verizon has added a bit of a twist to the pre-paid equation by allowing ALLSET users to add “Bridge Data” on top of the base plan’s 500MB cap that can be rolled over to future months if not used right away.

Verizon AllSet Plans.jpg

The ALLSET plans come with a 500MB (or 1GB if enrolled in Auto Pay) of cellular data each month that cannot be saved. From there, users can purchase up to two data packages that can be saved or rolled over to future months if not used right away. The Bridge Data packs work out to $5 for 500MB, $10 for 1GB, or $20 for 3GB. Users can save the $5 (500MB) pack for a month while the $10 (1GB) and $20 (3GB) packs can be saved or have the remaining bits rolled over for up to three months after purchase. The base data is used first, after which the first package is used completely before dipping into the second package (if purchased at all), which is important to consider in relation to the expiration dates.

In another bit of good news for ALLSET users, Verizon allows the mobile hotspot feature which is extremely rare for the cellphone industry (without charging an additional fee).

The system is not perfect due to the short expiration dates (at most 90 days) for rollover and the fact that base data cannot be saved (only the additional bridge data packs), but it is definitely a step in the right direction and a feature I have been wanting to see for years now. Hopefully this encourages other providers to consider rollover data plans, and the competition forces relaxed restrictions on the expiry of rollover data.