Skinny Bundles Boom: Charter, CenturyLink Latest to Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Services

How many over-the-top streaming TV services can actually survive the stampede to deliver television over the internet?

Two more OTT streaming skinny-bundle options — both from traditional operators, Charter Communications and CenturyLink — debuted this week, with packages designed for consumers averse to paying for conventional pay TV.

The new services wade into an already crowded-to-the-brim OTT pool. Other internet TV players include AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Google’s YouTube TV, Hulu’s recently launched live TV bundle, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and FuboTV. In addition, Comcast is gearing up to launch its own Xfinity Instant TV suite of broadband-delivered TV services across its U.S. footprint in the third quarter of 2017. And Verizon may soon be in the mix as well.

However many of these will still be standing in a year or two remains to be seen — but the land-grab is on to stake out OTT turf.

Charter, which last year completed the acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, is testing out Spectrum Stream — with a baseline package that strips out sports networks. The service is priced at $20 per month for local broadcast channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, along with 25 cable channels including AMC, TNT, CNN, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Bravo, E!, FX, A&E and History. The lineup excludes sports networks like ESPN and NBCSN, although Charter is also offering a $12 add-on tier with sports and news nets.

“We are testing Spectrum Stream, an IP-delivered in-home cable TV product with traditional TV everywhere out-of-home streaming, to a group of prequalified and current Spectrum Internet customers to see if this smaller package resonates with a certain segment of non-video customers,” a Charter rep said in an emailed statement.

Spectrum Stream also offers around 5,000 video-on-demand titles plus optional premium channels from HBO, Showtime and Starz — “delivered to connected and mobile devices, without requiring a set-top box,” the Charter rep noted. For now, Charter is selectively testing the new Spectrum Stream to customers in its current footprint.

Regional telco CenturyLink, meanwhile, has debuted CenturyLink Stream, with bundles starting as low as $15 per month. The top-tier Ultimate package includes 45-plus channels for $45 per month, including local ABC, NBC, Telemundo, UniMás, and Univision stations in select markets and national cable channels including ESPN, A&E, CNBC, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, ESPN, Food Network, HGTV, History, MSNBC and USA. New and existing CenturyLink broadband subs can receive a $5 monthly discount off the $45 Ultimate package price.

Available nationally in the U.S., CenturyLink Stream can be accessed on Roku players and Roku TVs, iOS and Android mobile devices, web browsers, and the LG-supplied CenturyLink Player set-top that’s based on the Android TV platform. CenturyLink Stream can be viewed using any broadband service and includes a cloud-based DVR feature.

CenturyLink Stream also offers several genre-themed add-on channel packs for Latino, kids and family, lifestyle, movies, news and information, sports and variety programming, along with a la carte channels including Showtime and regional sports networks in select markets.

Pictured above: CenturyLink Stream on Roku

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