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Does Comcast Stream Live Channels?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (September 12, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to

Q. I've had DIRECTV for awhile and I like that you can watch some of their channels live on the Internet. But now I'm moving to an area where I can't get a dish, but I can get Comcast, the local cable service. So, question: Does Comcast offer live streaming? -- Snoop, Philadelphia.

Snoop, you are right. DIRECTV offers 85 channels that you can watch live online on your computer, your iPad or your iPhone or Android smart phone. The list includes everything from CNN to Showtime to the MLB Network. And the service is free. To see a complete list of available channels, click here.

Most of DIRECTV's live streaming channels can only be watched via your home wireless network. However, there are 11 channels that you can watch outside the home, including DIRECTV's Audience Network, Showtime and Bloomberg News. You can see the list here.

Comcast also offers a free live streaming option, although it's not as comprehensive as DIRECTV's free streaming service. The cable operator offers 12 channels for live streaming on your computer (see mobile info below), including ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, CNN, Disney Junior,  the Disney Channel, Headline News and, DIRECTV subs take note, the Pac 12 Network.  You can see the list here.

(One interesting note: When I tested the Comcast streaming service on my computer, I found that the online broadcast was a few seconds ahead of the TV broadcast. For example, if you are watching a game on ESPN, the play will occur a few seconds sooner on your computer before you see it on your TV. Weird? Yes.)

Comcast also has the streaming rights to WatchESPN, which you can learn more about here.

Comcast's web page notes that not all the 12 channels listed may be available in your area. For example, the Pac 12 Network is only available in select markets, mostly in Pac 12 markets.

Comcast has a different streaming plan for mobile devices. You will have to download the Xfinity AnyPlay app, which costs $10 a month. That's a bit of a costly inconvenience, but it allows you to watch almost every channel you subscribe to, unlike DIRECTV, which offers those 85 channels for free. So with the extra cost comes extra service.

And there's one more catch with AnyPlay. According to Comcast's web site and its customer service department, it's not available in every market yet. So contact your local Comcast office to see if you can subscribe, if you are so inclined.

To learn more about Comcast AnyPlay, click here.

(By the way, if you try to watch Comcast's free live streaming channels on a mobile device by going to the Comcast web page, it won't work. It will instruct you to download the Xfinity TV Player. However, the player does not have a live streaming function.)

Bottom line: DIRECTV's streaming service has more channels and flexibility on how you can watch them (mobile and computer.) But Comcast's AirPlay service -- when it's available in every market -- could be an interesting way to watch all your channels on a mobile device. But you will have to pay for it.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at or at 703-505-3064.

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