Comcast’s Xfinity Stream service could have telco overbuilders more than a little worried

In what may be the worst kept secret ever, Comcast is reportedly planning to offer its Xfinity Stream service to subscribers of other pay-TV operators who share its service footprint.

The report, from industry blogger Phillip Swann at TVPredictions.com, speculates the Comcast, the country’s No. 2 pay-TV service behind AT&T/DirecTV, and the biggest cable operator in North America, could soon offer the $15/mo. very skinny bundle – it includes local broadcast channels and HBO – outside its beta markets in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Hampshire.

The Millennial-targeting bundle isn’t, said a Comcast spokeswoman, an over-the-top play, as it’s delivered through a Comcast gateway and over a managed IP network.

Comcast plans to make the gateway and streaming service available to its subscribers – and possible competitors’ subscribers — in its footprint by the end of the year.

TVPredictions noted that Comcast, in its FAQs about the service, said, “If you’re not an Xfinity Internet customer, we are working hard to make the required equipment available in 2016.”

Of course this will have pretty minimal impact on other cable operators, there’s currently minimal overlap in the segment’s broadband footprint.

Telcos, on the other hand, like AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink et al., likely are a lot more interested in where – and how – Xfinity Stream will play out. When IPTV services began rolling out in 2006, they targeted cable companies, knowing it would be pretty easy to churn at least 5% of subscribers away from cable incumbents quickly.

The shoe, as they say, may now be on the other foot.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn