Comcast launching streaming video service

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Comcast (Image: CNN)

NEW YORK (AP) – Comcast is launching a streaming video service as it faces growing intrusions from companies like Netflix and a rising number of customers who are becoming more mobile, using tablets and phones for entertainment.

The nation’s largest cable company said the new service, called Stream, will cost $15 a month. Internet customers would be able to watch live TV from about a dozen networks, including HBO, on phones, tablets and laptops. The service includes on-demand movies and shows.

Comcast Corp. said Monday that it will launch the service in Boston at the end of the summer and plans to make it available to all its customers by early 2016.

See how other providers stack up against Comcast’s new streaming video service:

COMCAST

Monthly price: $15.

Live offering: A dozen networks, including HBO.

On demand: Yes.

Restrictions: Internet customers only.

AMAZON

Monthly price: $8.25 (only through $99-a-year Amazon Prime subscription)

Live offering: None

On demand: Apart from original shows such as “Transparent,” offerings tend to be past seasons, plus movies. Next-day access to shows for $2 or $3 an episode.

Restrictions: Not available directly on Apple TV. Prime requires one-year commitment.

CBS ALL-ACCESS

Monthly price: $6.

Live offering: Local stations in 14 markets (including suburbs) with CBS-owned stations.

On demand: Day-after access to shows on mobile devices (on traditional computers, it’s free without a subscription). Full seasons for many shows, not just past five episodes. Past seasons for a handful of shows, including “The Good Wife,” “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and “60 Minutes.”

Restrictions: No apps for streaming TV devices. Some sports blackouts.

DISH’S SLING TV

Monthly price: Starts at $20.

Live offering: About 20 channels, including ESPN, ABC Family, AMC and Food Network. No broadcast channels like CBS or NBC. Add-on packages for sports, movies, kids, lifestyles and world news available for $5 each, and HBO for $15.

On demand: No recording of channels, though some offer older episodes, including HBO. Access to WatchESPN on-demand app, with others coming.

Restrictions: Can watch only one stream at a time, so members of households will need multiple subscriptions, although HBO content can be streamed on 3 devices at a time. DVR controls, such as pause and rewind, aren’t available for many channels. NFL blackouts on mobile devices.

HBO NOW

Monthly price: About $15

Live offering: New episodes are available through apps about the same time they are shown on TV.

On demand: Current and past seasons of most HBO shows, including “Game of Thrones,” “Girls” and “The Sopranos.” Hundreds of movies, including those from Universal, Fox, Warner Bros. and Summit.

Restrictions: Can subscribe only through a partner. Apple has exclusive deal among non-traditional distributors and requires Apple TV, an iPhone or iPad to sign up (you can then watch through a browser on other devices). Cablevision is the only pay-TV provider so far to offer HBO Now.

HULU

Monthly price: $8 for Plus, though many shows are free on Windows and Mac computers.

Live offering: None

On demand: Next-day access to shows from ABC, NBC, Fox and CW, along with some cable channels. Some movies and original shows.

Restrictions: Fox and CW shows restricted to pay-TV subscribers for first week. ABC requires pay-TV or Hulu Plus subscription during that time. Plus also needed for viewing on mobile and streaming TV devices.

ITUNES

Monthly price: None

Live offering: None, except for special events such as iTunes music festival.

On demand: Next-day access to shows for $2 or $3 an episode.

Restrictions: No Android devices. Apple TV is only streaming device supported.

MLB.TV

Monthly price: $20 (or $110 for full season)

Live offering: All Major League Baseball games, subject to hometown blackouts.

On demand: All games.

Restrictions: Lots of blackouts. Extra $5 a month or $20 for season to watch on mobile and streaming TV devices. Separate package available for minor-league games.

NETFLIX

Monthly price: Starts at $8.99

Live offering: None

On demand: Apart from original shows such as “House of Cards,” offerings tend to be past seasons, plus movies.

Restrictions: Ultra high-definition (4k) streaming for $3 more, standard-definition only for $1 less.

NICKELODEON’S NOGGIN

Monthly price: $6

Live offering: None

On demand: Games and activities created for service alongside archives of shows no longer on any of Nickelodeon’s TV channels. Aimed at preschoolers.

Restrictions: Available on Apple mobile devices only at first.

SONY’S PLAYSTATION VUE

Monthly price: Starts at $50.

Live offering: Base plan with CBS, NBC and Fox broadcast channels and cable schannels from AMC, Discovery, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps, Turner and Viacom. Additional sports and other channels for $10 or $20 more. More than 50 channels in basic; more than 85 in all. Main omissions: CW network and Disney channels, including ESPN and ABC.

On demand: Recording capabilities with unlimited storage, though shows expire after 28 days. Many shows over the past three days are automatically available. Access to some channels’ on-demand apps.

Restrictions: Available in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia only; suburbs excluded. Up to three simultaneous streams in a home, but each must have a separate PlayStation 3 or 4, and only one can be PS4. An iPad app is coming for out-of-home viewing, but a PlayStation is still required for set-up.