Time Warner Cable (TWC) will be launching an app for Roku owners which would allow subscribers to stream live TV from over 300 channels without the need for a separate set-top. However, video on demand won’t be available through Roku devices and services just yet.
The cable MSO’s CEO Glenn Britt doesn’t have a problem with creating streaming services that are compatible with connected TVs and devices such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360: “If somebody wants to use the interface that comes with one device or another, that’s fine. We’re going to continue to have ours. If there’s a better one–as long as they [subscribers] buy video from us–I don’t care.”
Roku is a popular internet video set-top company that specializes in offering budget friendly over-the-top (OTT) video set-tops, with some set-tops costing as little as $50. In addition, they also offer a “streaming stick” that can stream online video programming to any TV equipped with an HDMI port.
The elimination of separate set-top boxes might prove to be a boon to TWC, since set-top boxes cost money the cable giant could be saving. The manufacture, maintenance, and replacement adds up over millions of customers, so allowing connected TV devices to serve as a set-top could maybe help keep overhead costs from going up—especially since rising broadcast fees show no signs of slowing down.
Still, there are some unanswered questions. If set-top boxes are completely eliminated, will MSOs be able to measure service outages accurately? During Hurricane Sandy, cable MSOs were able to use the set-top boxes to determine the accurate time of service outage so customers could get the proper credits to their bill. In fact, TWC was the only MSO to automatically apply credits to their customer’s monthly bills. Might this innovation keep monthly pay TV subscription fees down?
Either way, the coming elimination of set-top boxes sounds like a good thing, especially if you ever have to move or decide to switch providers. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before other MSOs follow TWC in the trend to reduce or eliminate separate set-top boxes.