Comcast Streaming Service Streampix Takes Aim At Netflix
The latest contender/pretender taking aim at streaming-video giant Netflix? Comcast.
Fox News reports today that the Philadelphia-based telecommunications operator has unveiled Xfinity Streampix, a streaming video service launching Thursday that offers a library of movies and TV shows on-demand bundled with some existing Comcast video subscribers' packages, and available to others for $4.99 per month. The lower price point undercuts Netflix's cheapest service price of $7.99 by nearly half, and like Netflix, programming will be available via both online and via certain mobile devices.
This is opposite Comcast's Xfinity On-Demand service, which offers more recent episodes and seasons available for watching at any time.
Comparatively, Comcast tallied up 22.3 million video subscribers by 2011's end, against Netflix's 21.7 million online-streaming subscribers. Meanwhile, Amazon.com, Inc. has its own streaming service offered to its $79-per-year Amazon Prime subscribers. Also, Verizon and Coinstar's Redbox brand have been in talks to form their own Netflix competitor.
It's all well and good, but will it leave Netflix brass quivering? That's doubtful.
Sure, Netflix could've certainly made some better decisions last year. Jerking around customers over whether or not the brand would split into two separate by-mail and online-streaming services and hiking prices chased off many subscribers and sent stock prices tumbling. But the fact remains, Netflix is still the biggest dog in the yard. A competitor hasn't come along yet that tops their library, despite some dents like losing several Showtime original series' streaming rights and the upcoming end to an agreement with cable movie network Starz to stream their library of films.
Despite those losses, Netflix paid millions per episode to AMC for the streaming rights to "Mad Men." Last summer, they also added all five "Star Trek" series incarnations to their online library. And finally, come 2013, the streaming service will be home to the first new episodes of "Arrested Development" since the cult comedy's long-lamented 2006 cancelation by FOX.
Just as importantly, in the meantime, Netflix has the advantage amid a market that's grown in importance: video game console consumers. It just gives the brand a broader range. Comcast's service is available exclusively to Comcast customers. If someone moves and must utilize another cable provider, it's "Goodbye, Streampix." On the other hand, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 users needn't worry. It doesn't matter if each receives service through Comcast, Time Warner or any other provider. Netflix remains. While Comcast customers will consider Streampix a boon (especially those who abandoned ship when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings went briefly 'nanners this past summer over rates and division plans), that's not a big enough cross-section to exactly get anyone from Netflix quaking.
Points to Comcast for trying, but Netflix has the market presence, saturation, and streaming rights assets to sit atop its streaming-media throne as long as it wants.