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Roku Owners: Comcast Is About To Sell You Cable TV Without the Cable Box (bloomberg.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Comcast is making its Xfinity TV service available to subscribers with Roku set-top players via a new app, paving the way for customers of the nation's largest cable provider to watch live programming without the cost or hassle of a cable box. Roku is the first set-stop box to offer the Xfinity TV service, Comcast said in a statement Tuesday. During a test period, subscribers will have to hang on to their cable devices. When the app formally rolls out later this year, they'll be able sign up without renting a cable box. While Comcast expects the majority of its customers to opt for the typical setup, traditional pay-TV providers are trying to be more flexible about where and how people can watch TV given the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon and the boxes that offer them. Customers with Roku players will be able to watch live TV, browse on-demand libraries and record shows, just as they can with Comcast's boxes. Those who use the Roku as their primary device instead of Comcast's X1 device will receive a $2.50 monthly credit, the company said.
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Roku Owners: Comcast Is About To Sell You Cable TV Without the Cable Box

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  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday January 31, 2017 @05:22PM (#53776877)

    It was called "Clear QAM" and Comcast could have supported it at any time. The only reason it isn't is that the FCC has suffered regulatory capture and allowed Comcast to choose to encrypt, fucking over users of third-party tuners.

    • It supported it until around 2009/10. That's around the time my PC's TV card became quite a bit less useful.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The day Comcast started encrypting the signal to my house was the day I canceled service with them. I put an antenna in the attic and between that and Netflix I've been fine. One thing that was pretty shocking was seeing how good the over-the-air image quality was compared to what Comcast was dishing out.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2017 @06:24PM (#53777357)

      we lost a couple tivo and two old-school vhs decks (yes we used them to the very end) when analog signals were discontinued by cable company.

      we then started using a vcr in conjunction with a scheduling feature of the cable box (essentially programming the vcr to record what we programmed the cable box to show and when).. that feature soon disappeared after.

      we then lost four pc tuners when they started encrypting their new digital-only signals... even the fucking ota channels... GONE.

      all of this while they jack up rates every 3-6 months, add more bogus bullshit below-the-line charges, and pull more and more channels off of "basic" and "expanded" basic and onto separate extra-cost tiers...

      and they want to sell us a dvr (correction: rent) for 20 bucks a month more?

      FUCK NO.

      our bill is $140 for expanded basic, one sd box and slowest available internet. it used to be $105 for all of that PLUS every fucking extra tier and every fucking premium channel, and that was just 10 years ago.

      if we could even get ota signals in the valley here, we'd be all over that and dump charter's lame ass. but we're stuck... this or only internet and their internet is so fucking shitty we can't rely on that for tv either.

      • If you had reliable internet without a data cap, there are IPTV options for Kodi. Legal? Probably not. $10 a month for about 400 channels. It works.

        It's too bad Comcast won't just sell this sort of service. But I have found out I like some of the European channels Comcast (and indeed nobody else in North America) doesn't offer.

    • You still have it. Spend $40 and buy an HDTV antenna and stick it on the window sill. We just did it after our local cable provider pulled the same Clear QAM encrypting shenanigans and found we get about 35 channels -- all the locals in HD, plus PBS and a handful of others. You can even get a bigger amplified antenna on your roof or in your attic and split the signal and distribute it to your various TVs likely using your existing cable TV wiring . . . just like in the old days. :-)
  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2017 @05:25PM (#53776897)
    The worst customer service from the worst company on the planet now with extra buffering. Expect it to not work so great if you happen to use AT&T for your internet.
    • Expect it to not work so great if you happen to use AT&T for your internet.

      Or count toward your bandwidth cap if you use Comcast.

  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2017 @05:26PM (#53776903) Homepage Journal

    I'm not sure I would ever buy anything from Comcast. There's a long history of people doing that and finding themselves on the losing end of the deal.

    • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

      I'm not sure I would ever buy anything from Comcast. There's a long history of people doing that and finding themselves on the losing end of the deal.

      Like there is choice.

      • by Pikoro ( 844299 )

        Sure there is. Don't watch tv, or put up an antenna and get OTA for free. That's what I do. The tv only exists for chromecasting netflix and youtube.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Even if you had no choice of affordable fast Internet? :(

  • https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-... [cnet.com]

    Trump and his wonderful deregulations just announced today that Cable providers don't need to do this. I have to wonder if Comcast was aware of this before their announcement?

    "Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who had been appointed by Barack Obama, criticized the move, calling it a victory for "Cablewood over consumers." He also took a jab at Trump on Twitter. "$200 million Pai Tax on helpless cable subs. Trump helping little guy??"

    • I am surprised Tom only has like 500 followers on twitter

    • by mi ( 197448 )

      Trump and his wonderful deregulations just announced today that Cable providers don't need to do this. I have to wonder if Comcast was aware of this before their announcement?

      Seriously, you think, Comcast, which spends millions of dollars lobbying [opensecrets.org] various governments, could possibly have been unaware of developments at FCC? Or, more generally, that Comcast, whose CEO played golf with the President [politico.com], is not benefiting from the barriers to entry imposed by the regulations?

      The much more likely explanation is t

    • Trump and his wonderful deregulations just announced today that Cable providers don't need to do this. I have to wonder if Comcast was aware of this before their announcement?

      OMG, give me a break. The weak FCC has been allowing cable companies to screw consumers for decades... .and through both ENTIRE Obama administrations. So let's not pretend there is some new anti-consumer "thing" happening, or that it is something Republican, or something Trump, because it really isn't.

      Cable companies have been encryp

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2017 @05:29PM (#53776919) Journal
    From appointment TV on three networks, to VCRs that play movies that are too expensive to buy, to space-saving digitally downloaded entertainment.

    Programming providers has better learn to be more nimble in their ability to change with the market, or they will go the way of brick and mortar rental stores.

  • Or is this only over Comcast's Internet service?
    • by N7DR ( 536428 )

      Or is this only over Comcast's Internet service?

      From TFA: "For now, Xfinity app will be available only in current markets".

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      Who would choose Comcast if they actually had a choice?
    • Or is this only over Comcast's Internet service?

      Time Warner has a Roku live TV and on demand app. It only works on your home IP, if you connect outside your home, even on another TWC connection, you get a very limited (useless) set of channels.

      I assume similar limitations for Comcast.

  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2017 @05:31PM (#53776939) Homepage

    Cable is yet again trying to "modernize" itself too woo back the cord-cutters. Yeah, the Roku is not why people are cutting the cord. It's the pricing model that a $2.50 credit doesn't come even close to fixing.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Cable is yet again trying to "modernize" itself too woo back the cord-cutters. Yeah, the Roku is not why people are cutting the cord. It's the pricing model that a $2.50 credit doesn't come even close to fixing.

      Not to mention, while you might get a $2.50 bill credit Comcast will now blame any service issues on the Roku (since they don't own it). Whereas if service doesn't work on an actual cable box it's on them to get it to work, or roll a tech to replace the box.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Cable is yet again trying to "modernize" itself too woo back the cord-cutters. Yeah, the Roku is not why people are cutting the cord. It's the pricing model that a $2.50 credit doesn't come even close to fixing.

        Not to mention, while you might get a $2.50 bill credit Comcast will now blame any service issues on the Roku (since they don't own it). Whereas if service doesn't work on an actual cable box it's on them to get it to work, or roll a tech to replace the box.

        Somehow, I think Comcast just raised the price of cable by $12.50.. you see they are giving back only $2.50 of the $15 they charge per month for the cable box

        • Somehow, I think Comcast just raised the price of cable by $12.50.. you see they are giving back only $2.50 of the $15 they charge per month for the cable box

          That was my first thought. How could they credit you for something that is yours?

    • Cable is yet again trying to "modernize" itself too woo back the cord-cutters. Yeah, the Roku is not why people are cutting the cord. It's the pricing model that a $2.50 credit doesn't come even close to fixing.

      But... for those of us who do have a Roku and a X1 box, this would save us $2.50 a month. I have both in my bedroom and I only use X1 satellite box occasionally. I got the Roku to watch NHL Live as my favorite team (Oilers) plays late at night, local time. Getting rid of the extra X1 box and saving a few dollars, assuming that the App works well, is a bit of a win in my book. Plus, the Roku supports wireless and can be moved around the house. The X1 box has to be wired with Coax.

      So, for cord cutters, m

    • Depends. Comcast is the ONLY high speed internet provider to my house. I can pay $100/mo for their 75Mb internet, or $90/mo for their 75Mb internet and the basic digital cable channels (except for the 13th month of service, where I have to be off their current "promotion" for 30 days before I can get back on). But it's $10 extra per cable box. and another $10 extra if you want that service in HD. So we have a single SD link on the TV my wife watches. If I can pay $87.50 for all of that and just plug in the

      • Other commenters are saying this is a credit against the "per-outlet" fee that's much higher. Each Roku gets its own fee.

  • I am a lot less interested in having to be stuck in front of my TV for something than the ability to DVR it or get it on demand later.
  • What does this do that my TiVo doesn't do? I can already access the "On Demand" shows from Comcast via the TiVo. I already get the $2.50 credit and don't pay for the cable box* (although there is a monthly service fee for the TiVo box).

    Even after returning a cable box, I had to call to actually stop them billing me for it. Also, the same for my cable modem after I bought my own and returned the rented cable modem to Comcast.

    • by unitron ( 5733 )

      Are you renting or leasing that TiVo from the cable co, or did you buy it outright?

      If the latter, then you aren't paying a monthly fee for the box, you're paying for the piece of hardware which you own outright to be able to use the TiVo Service, which is a combination of a month by month license to use the proprietary part of the software, and the listings service (unfortunately not as good with the switch from Tribune Media Services/Gracenote to their new overlords Rovi), and some other "intellectual prop

  • If it uses Internet Data, then one needs to be careful about over data usage cap limits and extra fees. Comcast has or is moving to 1,000 GByte calendar month data caps, though one can get unlimited data by paying $50 more than the usual subscription fee for a given data plan. These extra fees won't be made up by the $2.50 credit on the cable box fee. What they should do is charge only $2.50 as the only fee for using a Roku and forget about the cable box fee and zero rate data charges. Knowing Comcast, they
  • Against at $15 charge for a cable box they no longer have .. sounds like a sweet deal for Comcast

  • >"Roku Owners: Comcast Is About To Sell You Cable TV Without the Cable Box"

    Who cares? Who exactly wants to be FORCED to watch commercials now? I know I don't. That is what "streaming cable" means.

    DVR on cable or OTA- fine
    Netflix model- fine
    Amazon pay-per-show model- fine
    Network passes of uninterrupted shows- fine.
    Streaming cable channels? Why?????

  • Plex today bought Watchup [theverge.com], which means soon you'll be able to get over a hundred channels of news streamed to any Plex client associated to your Plex Pass (or some similar deal) -- no need to tie it to a single silly screen plugged into your Roku. Expect more of this. Day by day, the cord cutters are winning and the Comcasts of the world are losing. They don't want you to time shift, cut commercials out, or consume content on anything but their Comcast-approved device, all "supported" by the worst custom
  • If the Roku works out there can be lots of other simpler set top boxes that don't need coax - just an ethernet or a good WiFi. This also means Comcast can open IPTV to apps on PCs, Macs, and smart-phones. And you can put TVs in your house where you don't have coax, like a bathroom or kitchen or outside. It might also mean that if you travel you can still watch your home TV channels wherever there's internet access, including while driving or in a bus or train.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry but I'm paying for the privilege to skip ads. Streaming TV shows even with a Comcast account still requires watching ads or taking surveys without knowing how the results can be used/shared. I'll keep on getting gouged on price as long as I can skip commercials but once that option is taken away it's time to simply start torrenting content and drop pay TV entirely.

  • I'd say no, because you need an HD box, and that's where the $10 comes from, but they gave me the HD box and said for $10 I could upgrade to HD without changing anything but the size of the payment I make each month. Because fuck you, that's why.

  • I have been using a Tivo with a free Comcast cablecard for many years without renting their "cable box". Comcast was required by law to give me two free cable cards, and each card went into a dual channel Tivo receiver to record two simultaneous standard "broadcast" stations on each, for a total of four recording channels for zero cost beyond the dirt cheap package that Comcast doesn't want you to know exists. Between that and Amazon Prime video I have way more than I can keep up with. I was not about to u
  • paving the way for customers of the nation's largest cable provider to watch live programming without the cost or hassle of a cable box.

    You mean like they use to, when I could just plug the cable directly into my TV, use just my TV remote AND get HD channels? All without a cable box? Then one day they strangely decided that I just HAD to have a cable box. Which 1) required a fee if I wanted the HD cable box (SD was free) 2) required that I now use two different remotes to control my TV 3) a SEPERATE box for each and every TV I wanted to hook up.

    Gee, thanks Comcast. You created an unnecessary problem, and then now offered a half-asse

  • All modern TV sets have a PCMCIA slot for inserting a CAM module, just like a satellite receiver. I never understood why TV providers don't use them...

  • TWC launched an app for Roku about three years ago. I use it on my two TVs with Roku 3's. One is on wifi, the other wired, and the video quality is as good as with a DVR. And the UI for the app is much better than on TWC's cable boxes; you can sort channels by name instead of channel number, navigation is quick and responsive, and everything is laid out logically for the D-pad instead of two dozen buttons on a normal remote. I mean, it's not exactly rocket science -- we're talking about basic TV function

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