Comcast to give subscribers access via Roku app, skipping cable box

Sign up for one of our email newsletters. Comcast is making its Xfinity TV service available to subscribers with Roku Inc. set-top players via a new app, paving the way for customers of the nation's largest cable provider to watch live programming without...

Comcast to give subscribers access via Roku app, skipping cable box

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Comcast is making its Xfinity TV service available to subscribers with Roku Inc. 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-top box to offer the Xfinity TV service, Comcast said in a statement. 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 such as 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.

For now, the Xfinity app is only available within Comcast's current markets. The Roku deal raises the possibility that the company will offer Xfinity nationwide, as do Dish Network and AT&T's DirecTV.

Dish and DirecTV, the nation's two satellite TV services, have created online TV services available to customers who don't want to subscribe to traditional pay TV. They are available to people with certain set-top boxes, as well as on mobile phones, web-enabled TVs and tablets.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, has added cable subscribers four of the past five quarters and finished 2016 with 22.5 million video subscribers. That's down from a peak of more than 24 million several years ago. In another move designed to keep people buying video service from the cable company, Comcast integrated Netflix into its cable box last year.

The company announced plans to work with Roku in April. In September, the Federal Communications Commission called off a planned vote to give consumers cheaper alternatives to renting cable company equipment.

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