Following the lead of Dish Network, Comcast is starting to think outside the cable box in a bid to keep cord cutters in the pay TV fold.
The cable giant on Thursday launches a service in Chicago called Stream TV, enabling Internet-only customers to watch live broadcast channels and HBO on laptops, tablets and phones in their homes. The service is about $15 a month, and you don’t need a converter box or a visit from the cable guy.
“We recognize that there’s another audience that we might not be catering to, and that audience is an Internet-only customer whose primary consumption pattern tends to fall on mobile devices,” said Comcast spokeswoman Lisa Scalzo.
Stream TV debuted in Boston last week, with Chicago next up on a national rollout to be completed by early next year, Scalzo said. Viewers can live stream local broadcast channels, including all major network affiliates.
Unlike other streaming services, this one is delivered over the same Comcast infrastructure that brings cable into your home, which is why you can only watch live at home, for now.
Stream TV also includes access to a cloud DVR that allows you to record up to two shows at a time and watch them at home or on the go.
The pay TV industry lost 226,000 subscribers in the third quarter, according to research firm MoffettNathanson, as viewers continue to cut the cable cord in favor of Internet video alternatives.
A report issued last week by Clearleap shows that streaming has caught up with cable in terms of overall market penetration, particularly among millennials. More than 70 percent of millennials use a streaming service, while only 64 percent subscribe to cable. The study called it a “mandate” for traditional pay TV providers to offer streaming services.
Comcast competitor Dish Network has gained significant traction since launching Sling TV in February, a streaming service that offers 20 cable channels for $20 per month, with HBO available for $15 more.