Charter and CenturyLink Launch Streaming ‘Skinny Bundles’

As more and more households cut the cable and move to streaming, many cable providers have gotten creative with how to make up that lost revenue. While some companies have chosen to opt for price hikes for remaining subscribers, a few wise cable providers are testing the streaming waters with so-called “skinny bundles.” These bundles are small packages of live streaming networks that cost much less than a traditional cable subscription and stream over the internet like any other streaming service. DIRECTV NOW is one of the more popular bundles, but now a few new competitors have thrown their names into the skinny bundle ring: cable giants Charter Communications and CenturyLink.

According to a statement emailed to Variety, Charter is calling their bundle “Spectrum Stream” and is only testing their new bundle in a few select markets:

We are testing Spectrum Stream, an IP-delivered in-home cable TV product with traditional TV everywhere out-of-home streaming, to a group of prequalified and current Spectrum Internet customers to see if this smaller package resonates with a certain segment of non-video customers.

The Charter Spectrum stream costs just $20 a month and includes 25 cable channels including AMC, TNT, CNN, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Bravo, E!, FX, A&E and History. ESPN is not included, but Charter is offering sports add-ons for an additional monthly price. The service also includes access to over 5,000 on-demand titles and features premium content from HBO, Showtime and Starz.

CenturyLink, meanwhile, is calling their service “CenturyLink Stream.” For $45 per month, subscribers can access close to 50 channels including ESPN, A&E, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Food Network, HGTV, History, MSNBC and USA. The service is compatible with Roku players and Roku TVs, iOS and Android mobile devices, web browsers, and features a built-in cloud DVR feature.

Sure, these bundles are great news for cable cutters who want to ditch a month cable bill while keeping their favorite cable networks. However, it makes you wonder: if the cable companies themselves move into the streaming world, does kicking traditional cable in favor of these bundles really count as cable cutting? These bundles might be a neat new package, but inside might be the same old product. Who knows, though. Give one a shot and see if it’s right for you.

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Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley lives in beautiful western North Carolina. Aside from streaming television news, Brett covers all things strange, extraordinary, weird, and wonderful at When he's not glued to the keyboard, Brett can be found hiking throughout the Pisgah National Forest. Email him at or on Twitter at @brettbtingley.
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