All right, it's more or less raining new streaming services at this point. Comcast is the latest company to unveil a new streaming VOD client, hot on the heels of competitor Verizon a scant two weeks ago. The service will be called Streampix, it will play on the Xbox 360 and Android phones, and while it won't come with a fruit basket and a note begging you not to cancel your cable subscription, the message is pretty clear.
The service will be available exclusively to Xfinity customers for free on the higher-end packages and as a $4.99-a-month add-on on others. At launch, it will include past full seasons of 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, Lost, Married…With Children, The Office, Ugly Betty and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Comcast announced additional kids' programming, including Disney Channel's hit Wizards of Waverly Place. Several theatrical films were also announced, all several years old, but with Comcast a majority stakeholder in NBCUniversal, expect further deals down the road to support the new service.
There are a couple inclusions worth noting on the theatrical films list: Ocean's Eleven and When Harry Met Sally. Neither one streams on Netflix because they're Warner Bros. films. Warners (especially head honcho Jeff Bewkes) has been notoriously suspicious of Netflix and has kept the company at arm's length, adding few of its titles to the streaming library and including roadblocks even to the old-school snail-mail DVD service. The library at Streampix is reportedly small, but Comcast is uniquely sympathetic to the needs of a company like Warner Bros., since it owns one of Warners' main competitors. Netflix may be the way of the future, but the company that controls the rights to the Harry Potter films, The Sopranos and every single Bugs Bunny cartoon is still a major player, and it hasn't picked a side.
A large part of the TV industry doesn't want to deal with Netflix because they'll lose life-sustaining revenue streams of subscriber fees and advertising. If Streampix and its ideological twin TV Everywhere hit it big, they could help create a new model for cable companies losing money to cord-cutting consumers. The service is available starting next week.
It's worth noting that Netflix isn't sitting still. The company had its own announcement this morning as well. In a multiyear deal, the streaming service added content from the Weinstein Company to its ever-expanding library, including Oscar favorite The Artist, along with Undefeated, Coriolanus and other recent films.