While the livestreaming arena is dominated by providers Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, other relative newcomers like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, or PlayStation Vue have carved their own niches, too. But many of these powerhouse options leave much to be desired in the local channels department, necessitating the use of an ugly HD antenna - which you can’t record over, by the way.
So since every company and its mother’s uncle is offering its own TV streaming service now, it makes sense that even cable giant Comcast Xfinity would join in.
Enter Comcast Xfinity’s Instant TV service into the arena. Where the other livestreaming TV providers fail, Instant TV provides all the local channels – perfect if you’re an Xfinity Internet customer already and don’t want their cable, too – but also don’t want to use an antenna for locals.
First things: What is Xfinity Instant TV?
Comcast rolled out its test-version of a livestreaming TV service back in 2015 for just $15 bucks a month. Despite a very limited lineup, it wasn’t a bad value - you got all the major broadcast stations, some movies from Streampix, and even HBO.
But then in 2017, Comcast unveiled a new version: Xfinity Instant TV. It’s a livestreaming TV service with a catch: like Xfinity Mobile, it’s only available to people who are Xfinity Internet customers.
That aside, it’s structured similarly to Sling TV: 1 base package, then customization through add-on packages for additional monthly rates.
That out of the way, let’s dive into the details.
Xfinity Instant TV: Packages and Pricing
|Plans||1st-mo. price||Regular price||View plans|
|Limited Basic||Free||$18/mo.||View plans|
|Kids & Family||+$10/mo.||+$10/mo.||View plans|
|Sports & News||+$36.50/mo.||+$36.50/mo.||View plans|
|STREAMPIX premium add-on||+$4.99||+$4.99||View plans|
|EPIX premium add-on||+$5.99/mo.||+$5.99/mo.||View plans|
|SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, STARZ premium add-on||+$12/mo.||+$12/mo.||View plans|
|HBO premium add-on||+$15/mo.||+$15/mo.||View plans|
But, Instant TV does nab you with a low starting rate: $18 a month.You’ll get all your locals: CBS, FOX, NBC, and more, plus your basic public and educational channels. Plus, you get your first month free as a trial.
The problem is, there’s some extras you need to watch out for:
- You need Xfinity Internet - so you’ll be paying at least $39.99/month, depending on your area;
- That broadcast fee, while appearing to be built in, can cost you up to $10/month; and
- Regional Sports Fees can be up to $8.25/mo.
So if you’re unlucky and live somewhere with the top end of that range, you’ll actually wind up paying $36.35 a month just for the TV half of your required TV/Internet bundle. With the TV, that’s at least $58.24 per month.
And that’s not counting adding on any add-on packs, which run an extra $4.99-$15 per month extra. Which, as a side note, are not free during your trial 30-days.
Compare that to others, like Sling TV’s Orange plan, which gives you some locals like NBC and FOX, plus more sports programming and cable networks for just $25 a month. And to continue to enrich your channel selection to compete with Sling or DIRECTV NOW, you’ll have to add on those packs – which soon rack up the costs.
Xfinity Instant TV: Channel lineup
|Limited Basic||ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, NBC, PBS, CSPAN, CSPAN HD, CSPAN2, (Local) Educational Programming, Eternal Word Television Network, EVINE Live, Home Shopping Network, HSN HD, HSN2, Jewelry Television, Music Choice (x59)||View plans|
When it comes to the actual channels you, get we touched them briefly already: it’s not bad, especially for locals. You get ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, NBC, and PBS. And while you may be able get these for free with an HD antenna, an antenna doesn’t come with the ability to DVR shows – we’ll talk about that more later.
So for locals, Xfinity Instant TV has just about every other livestreamer beat: you get ‘em all. But in any other area, Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW, and Hulu Live TV have better base selections than Instant can offer.
To add more, you’ve gotta add on packs.
Add-on: Kids & Family
|Kids & Family||Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Universal Kids, TLC, Hallmark, insp||View plans|
The Kids & Family pack is the cheapest add-on pack you can get. It’s a bit of an oddball in some respects – why are MTV and TLC on a kids channel package? We don’t know either. Otherwise, though, it does have most everything you’d want in a kids pack.
|Entertainment||A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery, E!, Food network, FX, FXX, HGTV, History, Lifetime, OWN, SYFY, TBS, TNT, ONE, USA, VH1, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, LMN, MoviePix, BBC America, HSN2, MTV Live||View plans|
The Entertainment pack is a bit pricier, but gives you a good selection: A&E, AMC, FX, Lifetime, and BBC America, to name a few. But that still pales in comparison to DIRECTV NOW: they give you all these channels plus more in their base package for $50 bucks a month.
Add-on: Sports & News
|Sports & News||CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Business, Fox News, FS1, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBCSN, The Weather Channel, RSNs, Bloomberg Television, HLN, CSPAN2, CSPAN3, Motortrend||View plans|
For whatever reason, Xfinity decided to pair Sports and News together in one pack – with a massive price tag attached. And like the Entertainment pack, the price comes out a lot higher than for other providers: Hulu Live TV gives you all these channels but NFL Network for $45/month; and PlayStation Vue gives you everything plus more for $45 a month also.
Premium add-on channels fall flat again, too – HBO costs the same as a standalone HBO NOW subscription ($15/mo.), and STARZ actually costs $3 more per month than STARZ on its own (What?). We don’t get it either.
|Spanish-language - DEPORTES||ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, Univision, Universo, Univision Deportes, IAS||View plans|
|Spanish-language - LATINO||CineLatino, Cinema Dinamita, CNN, Kids, History en Espana, Cine Mexicano, Discovery en Espanol, Galavision, familia Discovery, Cine Sony Television, BabyFirst, Pasiones, Viendo Movies||View plans|
Xfinity Instant TV gets a hand here, though – Spanish-lanuage channel packs aren’t bad, and for cheap: both DEPORTES and LATINO are just $5 bucks a month extra, so they beat DIRECTV NOW’s prices there.
Xfinity Instant TV: Device Compatibility
|Compatible devices||Non-compatible devices|
Instant TV’s compatibility with devices is a bit of a novelty, as streaming services go – the list of non-compatible devices is a lot longer than the lists of ones Instant’s app actually works on. Unless you have Roku, iPhone or iPad, or Android device, you won’t be able to get the app. That means you wind up with some mind-boggling restrictions, like the fact that you won’t be able to use the TV playback function.
In contrast, just about every other livestreaming service (and non-live streamers) provide app support on most TV-connected devices. Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue – they all have Apple TV apps and Amazon Fire availability. YouTube TV and Hulu Live work on Xbox. PlayStation Vue is compatible on PS3 and PS4.
We’re not sure where Xfinity missed the train here, but they definitely did.
Xfinity Instant TV: DVR
|Provider||Xfinity Instant TV||YouTube TV||Hulu Live TV||PlayStation Vue|
|DVR storage||20 hours||Unlimited||50 hours||Unlimited|
Xfinity Instant TV does offer a Cloud DVR included for free — so that’s a nice feature. But it’s capped at 20 hours of recording and you can only record up to 2 shows simultaneously. Other streamers – as you can see in the above table – offer a lot more.
But, you can upgrade to the X1 DVR for an additional $9.95/month if you feel like tacking on yet another extra cost.
There’s a lot missing from Xfinity’s Instant TV livestreaming TV service. While cheap initially, your price can quickly add up – while still missing very desirable channels. Plus, the array of compatibility is poor and the DVR leaves much to be desired – although it does match up well against DIRECTV NOW’s 20-hour Cloud.
But, if you love your major broadcast networks, Instant has ‘em all – and you can record them, too.
Best for: Xfinity Internet customers who want to be able to watch their big network channels and don’t care about much else.