Comcast Steampix Joins Attack on Netflix

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First came the Dish Network. Then came Verizon and Redbox. Now, Comcast is announcing its own video subscription service in an effort to siphon business away from Netflix.

The service, called Xfinity Streampix, will be free for subscribers to Comcast's triple play service of TV, Internet, and phone. For other Comcast subscribers, Streampix will cost $4.99 per month, Variety reports. The service will be available on the Web, mobile devices and connected TV platforms, but Comcast hasn't announced any specific apps yet.

Comcast will offer a mix of old movies and TV shows, similar to Netflix's library. Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures are on board, and Comcast's NBCUniversal unit is lending some of its own content.

The announcement comes just two weeks after Verizon and Redbox announced plans for a streaming video service. But those companies haven't said much about how their service will work, promising more details in the coming months. Also, last September, Dish Network announced a streaming and mail-order DVD service called Blockbuster Movie Pass, which costs $9.99 per month and is only available to Dish subscribers.

My problem with all these services from pay TV providers is that, unlike Netflix, they have little incentive to change the status quo. Their goal is to retain subscribers, so their strategy is simple: Undercut Netflix as a cable supplement.

Netflix, on the other hand, wants to shake up the TV business, so it's pursuing new content with movie studios and TV networks. The company is even developing original shows, such as the Netflix-exclusive Lilyhammer--which, by the way, is quite good--and the comeback of Arrested Development. For Netflix, the goal is not merely to be cheaper, but to be better--maybe even good enough to replace cable altogether for some people.

Will Streampix and succeed in pulling some subscribers away from Netflix? Probably, because it's a cheaper service. Just don't expect it to make TV better along the way.

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This story, "Comcast Steampix Joins Attack on Netflix" was originally published by PCWorld.

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