Comcast Dips Its Toe in the Streampix

The writing on the wall of every pay-TV headquarters is “Evolve now or die!” Some companies appear to reading this with more clarity than others, and there also seems to be a difference of opinion on what the term “Now!” means.

The latest move in this attempt to switch from gills to breathing air comes from the largest cable company in the country. Last week, Comcast announced its new Streampix service that is available to some customers in some areas. The service will be bundled with some subscriptions, and will be available as a $5 per month add-on for others.

What do you get? From the press release: “Streampix is launching with top-notch programming and will significantly increase the breadth of entertainment choices for Xfinity customers in the coming months to include complete seasons of TV series, popular children’s franchises and hit movies available to instantly stream across multiple platforms.” Sounds like it’s going toe-to-toe with Netflix and Hulu Plus, but at a lower cost.

Well, maybe. The content is somewhat less than compelling. The announcement features older movies including “Stuart Little” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. These are perfectly fine movies, but they’re not in any danger of dipping into Comcast’s video-on-demand revenues. And the “past full seasons” goes back to “Heros” and “Married with Children”. (Isn’t Christina Applegate on her third sitcom since then?) And you have to be a Comcast subscriber in order to get the service in the first place.

It’s a baby step in the right direction, I suppose, but Comcast is going to have to do a lot better in a big hurry if it is going to challenge those companies that have already established a beachhead in streaming video. This will do as an initial experiment, but not for long.