Comcast prevents Internet only subscribers from freely accessing streaming content

monopoly

Tonight was the “big one”, the 2016 College Football National Championship between Clemson and Alabama, and based on articles posted to the Web it would be made available at no charge for online streaming – except it doesn’t work if a user has Comcast internet service only. Based on the conversation, which follows below, the analysts keep saying that Watch ESPN, or ESPN Go is not provided on the “basic” package, and I keep pointing out that Watch ESPN is an internet streaming application that should have nothing to do with a Comcast TV service plan.

I pointed out we have subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon, Sling, and three other streaming offerings, and can receive them without issue – most of the time. So why is Comcast preventing users from accessing Watch ESPN? And why are they forcing subscribers to “upgrade” to an unwanted TV service. We cancelled the TV offering because 99% of the stuff on there is junk, plus the advertising is a royal pain-in-the-ass. We don’t want to watch broadcast, network, or cable television – we simply want to be able to access streaming content from our choice of providers and not have to obtain the approval of Comcast to do so.

Following is the transcript of my conversation with Comcast tonight:


Chat Transcript
  • CHAT ID: BC181A07-AB47-44A8-ADD7-0AECFC9EA78A
  • Problem: Why can’t we stream Watch ESPN content on our wifi connection to a PC or a tablet?

  • Maria > Hello JUDY_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Maria. Please give me one moment to review your information.
  • Maria > Hi ! I hope you are doing well.
  • Maria > Hi judy!
  • JUDY_ > My Issue: Why can’t we stream Watch ESPN on our wifi connection?
  • Maria > How’s your day going?
  • Maria > I would definitely love to help you out with your concern today.
  • JUDY_ > Good
  • Maria > No worries I can definitely help you with this
  • Maria > Rest assure that your concern will be resolve today.
  • Maria > May i know if you can see it on cable tv?
  • JUDY_ > No…we do not have Cable TV…only WiFi
  • Maria > Oh I see.
  • JUDY_ > We have NO interest in 99% of the stuff that is on the TV channels
  • Maria > We need to activate first the cable box judy, accessing ESPN online is just a mirror only on yoru cable tv service.
  • Maria > We can access channels online once the cable box is activated.
  • JUDY_ > Watch ESPN, and ESPN Go are WiFi streaming process…like Netflix, Amazon, et al
  • Maria > Yes Judy, you can access it to tvgo.xfinity.com using your comcast username and password.
  • JUDY_ > Well no, it says “Comcast services required”
  • Maria > Yes that is correct, since cable box was not activated.
  • JUDY_ > The cable box is “activated” since I’m using the Internet to talk to you
  • Maria > Once your cable box is activated then no problem Judy , you can access channels anywhere and everywhere online inside US.
  • Maria > I see, please check if you can see on your cable box first.
  • JUDY_ > I don’t understand “activated”…
  • Maria > Let me know once done.
  • JUDY_ > I repeat: we do NOT have Comcast TV service
  • Maria > You need to hook up your cable box Judy, that is activated I mean.
  • Maria > Checking here you have Judy.
  • Maria > You have Internet Plus with Blast
  • JUDY_ > It is…the cable modem is right next to me…my WiFi router is connected to it, and I can stream Netflix no problem…but not Watch ESPN
  • JUDY_ > Roku works fine, WiFi works fine, Netflix works fine…Watch ESPN will not play
  • Maria > Checking here this are the channels you can access on your package.
  • Maria > Channels included in Limited Basic are CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, WB, CN8, UPN, QVC, PBS, Univision, PAX, C-SPAN, and C-SPAN2.
  • Maria > Checking here no ESPN .
  • JUDY_ > We cannot get even these channels on our TV…but that’s not my concern…I simply want to know why we cannot stream Watch ESPN over a WiFi connection.
  • JUDY_ > When the Watch ESPN application opens it says Comcast is “not supported”…why not?
  • Maria > Yes Judy, it simply because you cannot access it on TV. Once you can access it on tv then the online is just a morror on it and you can access then.
  • Maria > To resolve this, let me connect you first to our cable team to check it why you cannot watch ESPN on cable box after that online would not be a problem, would that work?
  • JUDY_ > This happens on my tablets: Nook, Nexus, also on my Samsung Galaxy and iPhone
  • JUDY_ > Whatever.
  • Maria > Thanks Judy, please stay online as I connect you rigth away to our cable team.
  • Maria > Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst
  • JUDY_ > My Issue: Why can’t we stream Watch ESPN on our wifi connection?
  • Ralp > I am now reviewing your account information.
  • Ralp > Let’s work on this issue Judy.
  • Ralp > You can’t access ESPN on your TV, am I correct?
  • JUDY_ > No…but I want to access Watch ESPN on my PC or my tablet
  • Ralp > You’ve reached TV department, the other agent should help you on this issue since it’s online.
  • JUDY_ > hmmm…
  • Ralp > I’m checking on the account first if it’s included in your package.
  • JUDY_ > Again, I can get Amazon, Netflix, and a bunch of other offerings via Roku, and on my PC and tablets; but not Watch ESPN
  • Ralp > That’s because Amazon and Netflix are not under Comcast.
  • Ralp > Also, ESPN is under Starter and your current TV package is Limited basic that’s why you can’t access it online.
  • JUDY_ > Phrase provided by Watch ESPN…”this network is not included in your current television subscription…”…Yes, we have NO interest in 99% of the stuff on TV; but that should NOT prevent us from streaming ESPN !!
  • Ralp > I will take note of that Judy. We really need to transfer this chat to our Online team.
  • Ralp > They can help you further accessing it online.
  • Ralp > Is that okay?
  • JUDY_ > “…not under Comcast”…what does that mean?
  • Ralp > I meant, to get Amazon and Netflix you need to subscribe them by calling their network.
  • Ralp > ESPN is with Comcast, to get this channel we need to subscribe first.
  • Ralp > But since you’re trying to stream it online we really need to transfer thsi chat to our online team.
  • Ralp > Is that okay?
  • JUDY_ > ok
  • Ralp > We’re experiencing a short wait in our Online department. You might see a message that says I have left the room, but you’ll still be connected to the next available agent. Please stay online and connected to the chat, and they’ll be with you ASAP.
  • Ralp > Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst
  • JUDY_ > My Issue: Why can’t we stream Watch ESPN on our wifi connection?
  • Jeanette > Hi there! I am looking forward to providing you with an EXCELLENT service today!
  • Jeanette > Judy, I understand that you need help tp watch ESPN online, correct?
  • JUDY_ > I want to stream Watch ESPN on my PC and tablets
  • Jeanette > I see. No worries, I can check this for you and I will defintely do my very best to help you.
  • Jeanette > Is this the first time you willstream ESPN online?
  • Jeanette > You have opened a window for Comcast Internet Department and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to support you. Please do let me know you are there.
  • JUDY_ > No, I signed up for Slink or Sling just so I could watch the CFP game tonight ..and I still can’t
  • Jeanette > I see. Upon checking, I am seeing here that Sports Entertainment package is not part of your service
  • JUDY_ > I briefly got to the “Megacast Spidercam”…but now it’s locked up too !
  • Jeanette > And please be advised that in order to watch or stream shows, you need to have subscription, Judy
  • JUDY_ > I do NOT WANT regular Television with all its ads !!! I simply want to be able to stream whatever the hell I want to without being denied the chance to do that.
  • Jeanette > I certainly understand you, Judy
  • Jeanette > May I ask were you able to watch ESPN on your TV?
  • JUDY_ > We have subscriptions to Netflix, to Amazon, to Sling…but we cannot stream Watch ESPN
  • JUDY_ > We do NOT have Comcast TV …only WiFi …that’s all we want !
  • Jeanette > I definitely understand you want to watch Comcast TV on Wifi. And please be informed that for you to watch shows online, you need to have Cable subscription and I can see that you cable service and also we need to make sure that you are able to watch the show on your TV first since your online streaming depends on your TV.
  • Jeanette > No worries, I can connect you to our cable team for better assistance
  • Jeanette > Would there be anything else that I can assist you with before I transfer this chat?
  • JUDY_ > No…looks like we’re finished here, each talking past the other.
  • Jeanette > Oh, please do not worry, we will connect you to the right team, Judy. We will make sure that we will able to help you with this
  • Jeanette > Also, we need to make sure that it is accessible in your TV first since it relies on your cable subscription
  • Jeanette > Please stay online as I transfer you now.
  • Jeanette > Just to set expectation, you will see a message that says I have “left the room.” However, you will still be connected to the next available analyst. Please stay online and connected to the chat for the next analyst will assist you as soon as possible. Thank you.
  • JUDY_ > Please convey the message to the management team that I plan on making sure that the FCC reads this transcript, and understands that Comcast is not permitting users the ability to access whatever they choose via Internet streaming.
  • Jeanette > Sure, I will leave notations on that and I will raise to the HIgher team so that they will be aware.
  • Jeanette > Please stay online as I transfer you now, Judy.
  • JUDY_ > ok
  • Jeanette > Thanks
  • Jeanette > Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst
  • JUDY_ > My Issue: Why can’t we stream Watch ESPN on our wifi connection?
  • Junell > I am now checking your information.
  • Junell > Thank you for waiting.
  • Junell > We have the details now why you are not able to access espn online streaming and on your cable TV.
  • JUDY_ > There are at least 20 service networks that WatchESPN is available for WiFi streaming over the Internet…but not Comcast. Why is that?
  • Junell > It shows here that your current service needs to be upgraded to digital starter.
  • Junell > The current cable service you have now is basic cable.
  • Junell > ESPN belongs to digital starter.
  • JUDY_ > Please read the earlier part of the transcript to understand I am NOT talking about watching Watch ESPN on my TV…I want to access it via my PC and tablet
  • JUDY_ > Watch ESPN is an Internet streaming application, and has NOTHING to do with cable television…
  • Junell > It would be the same thing. You need to have your service be upgraded to digital starter in order to access the ESPN both on TV and on online using pc and tablet.
  • JUDY_ > …or SHOULD NOT have anything to do with whether we have Comcast TV, Comcast telephone, or Comcast Coffee Making services !
  • JUDY_ > Thanks for affirming that Comcast IS preventing free access to Internet streaming content!
  • Junell > It is preventing you to accessespn online because it is not part of your package.
  • JUDY_ > ESPN says they are providing Watch ESPN free of charge to internet users…unless the user happens to be using Comcast.. Internet access should NOT have anything to do with a TV package !
  • Junell > I do understand that, Judy. What we can do is we can allow your account to access espn online for a 30 days.
  • JUDY_ > No, the BCS National Championship game is probably over by now…and I get to thank Comcast for not letting me watch it, in spite of the fact we are paying Comcast for Internet service.
  • JUDY_ > Ok Junell, this is not helping either of us, so let’s just end this. Thanks for your help.l
  • Junell > I do understandt that, Judy. My Apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you.
  • JUDY_ > Ok, thanks, bye for now.
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