Even though Comcast's new streaming service—called Stream—is expensive compared to over-the-top (OTT) services on the market, some analysts believe that it may ultimately help solidify the company's role as primary conduit of content into the living room.
In fact, by evolving to include a streaming service—essentially behaving like Netflix or Hulu—it is just setting itself up to be even more relevant in the future, said one analyst.
And make no mistake: The Stream cable video service–which allows Xfinity Internet consumers to stream content from about a dozen network providers including HBO through its broadband service–almost certainly will cost consumers more than if they just cut the cord.
Recode reported that in Philadelphia the cost of a combined Stream and broadband subscription would run about $82 a month, while simply subscribing to the TV and broadband service would be significantly cheaper at $45 monthly. Wired said the services wouldn't be available on set-top boxes, which would make it harder to watch on larger television screens.
But none of that may matter. Ashley Swartz, CEO and founder of digital advertising technology company Furious Corp., said that Comcast's move to create a streaming-only service wasn't to secure new customers or to compete against other OTT services like Netflix or Hulu. Rather, the goal is to retain its broadband customers, while widening profit opportunities on the Internet side.
"This is not an innovation," she said. "The operators are basically digging in their heels and combating any new market entrant. This is very much defensive and a hedge."
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Increasingly, cable companies like Comcast are relying more on profits from their broadband services rather than TV. A recent Deutsche Bank report said that losses from subscribers cutting the cord are being offset by increased prices for the Internet. Cable companies now look toward broadband and other business services for growth.
The report estimated that in 2014, cable companies lost about $20 in operating free cash flow per month per person who unsubscribed from TV services. By 2020, they estimate it will be down to just $9 per customer. (Comcast, which announced Stream on Monday, didn't respond to requests for comment.)
Swartz explained that cable companies have been slowly upping the cost for broadband services while decreasing cable. Though the average customer who subscribes to multiple services may have only noticed a few dollars extra in their total bill, those who are subscribing to only Internet are paying a higher premium. Most customers are willing to pay more, because they perceive that they are saving overall by adding other OTT services, she said.
In addition, Swartz said that because Comcast has so many existing deals with broadcasters and such a large subscriber base, it is able to negotiate better streaming rights deals with networks, which adds to its profit margin.
"Comcast is the most likely to be able to offer a skinny bundle and retain profit and the average profit level per subscriber because they have the largest purchasing power in the marketplace," she said.
So while analysts like MoffettNathanson's Craig Moffett point out that more people are ending their TV cable subscriptions—at the rate of 1.6 million annually as of the first quarter of 2015—that doesn't mean companies like Comcast are any less necessary, Swartz said.
"They're more relevant," she said. "Now all they have is a broader portfolio."
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.