×

Comcast Offers HBO Without Other Cable Channels in Bundle Aimed at Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers

MSO’s Internet Plus broadband package includes premium channel, broadcast TV and Streampix VOD

Comcast is pitching a new low-cost, broadband-plus-TV bundle designed for consumers who have shunned or canceled traditional cable TV, using HBO as a key enticement for those who don’t want to pay for a full package with other cable channels like ESPN, Fox News or TNT.

The nation’s No. 1 cable operator confirmed that it has launched a trial offer of “Internet Plus,” which includes broadcast TV, video-on-demand, HBO (and HBO Go) and 20- or 25-Mbps broadband. Subscribers also get access to Xfinity Streampix, Comcast’s Netflix-style multiscreen VOD service with several thousand TV shows and movies.

The bundle is priced at $39.99 or $49.99 per month for 12 months (depending on market), which is $15 less than the starting price for bundles with Comcast’s expanded basic cable lineups. The price goes up to $69.95 monthly after the first year. The limited-time offer is being promoted across Comcast’s footprint to new residential customers, but may not be available in certain areas.

Under FCC rules, pay TV providers are required to offer premium services like HBO on a standalone basis in conjunction with broadcast basic. What’s notable about Comcast’s Internet Plus promo is that it leads with broadband as the primary service and touts any-screen access to TV shows — a pitch intended to persuade customers inclined to take broadband-only service a reason to buy a TV package (albeit a smaller one).

The MSO’s pricing for Internet Plus also is much lower than what it would cost for a similar package of services from other providers. For example, Time Warner Cable offers broadcast basic, HBO and 30-Mbps broadband for a promotional rate of $79.99 monthly.

Comcast insiders insist the marketing offer, which expires next Jan. 31 in some markets and July 31 in others, is just a trial and doesn’t presage a move toward pure a la carte. Indeed, part of the strategy is aimed at upgrading subscribers to cable TV tiers down the line.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said at an investment conference last month that the company was open to the idea of packaging HBO with a broadband offering from cable and telco operators — as long as they also offer pay TV to consumers.

Comcast’s Internet Plus service is not a broadband-only streaming video play: Subs must have a Comcast set-top. Meanwhile, the MSO is prohibited under federal regulations from offering cable channels like HBO without also including broadcast nets, referred to as the “B1” tier in industry parlance.

SEE ALSO: HBO Upgrading HBO Go for a Future It’s Not Ready to Embrace

Comcast had 21.8 million video subscribers as of the end of June, down 342,000 from the year prior.

HBO execs, for their part, have repeatedly disavowed plans to offer HBO Go as a direct-to-consumer service, stressing the go-to-market benefits of pay TV distribution.

In a statement, the premium cabler said the offer “recognizes the popularity of HBO’s programming and brand. For those consumers that prefer this type of package, we are thrilled HBO is being made available to them in this way.”

At the same time, Netflix is in talks with Comcast and other other cable operators including Time Warner Cable and Cox about potential distribution deals that would include access to Netflix’s service through cable set-tops. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said on the company’s earnings call Monday that he was “hopeful” it could reach pacts with Comcast and others.

Comcast’s launch of the broadband-plus-HBO promotion was reported Thursday by DSLReports.com.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content