Comcast is getting ready for a world without set-top boxes: The cable giant has struck deals with Roku and Samsung to bring its Xfinity TV service to the company’s devices. Comcast customers will be able to stream Xfinity TV programming to select Roku streaming devices, Roku TVs and 2016 Samsung smart TVs later this year, the company announced Wednesday.
Comcast also announced a consumer electronics partner program that aims to bring the service to devices from additional manufacturers. “We remain committed to giving our customers more choice in how, when and where they access their subscription, and the Xfinity TV Partner Program enables us to efficiently and effectively expand the range of devices our customers can utilize to do that,” said Comcast Cable SVP Mark Hess.
Comcast customers will be able to use these devices to access live and on-demand programming as well as their cloud DVR recordings. The service will only work in the home so consumers wouldn’t be able to authenticate their Roku device and then stream their programming in a second household.
However, the service won’t require consumers to rent a separate set-top box from the cable company anymore. Instead, they can just opt to buy a Roku streamer or download the Xfinity TV app to their supported Samsung smart TV. This is the first time for Comcast to offer its cable TV service without a dedicated set-top box.
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Comcast isn’t the first pay TV operator to go down this route. Time Warner Cable (TWC) launched an app for its service on Roku streaming devices, Samsung smart TVs and Xbox game consoles in 2013. However, TWC still requires its subscribers to rent at least one set-top box.
Comcast embracing third-party devices is also notable because the company has spent heavily on X1, its own next-generation cable box. Comcast has been slow to add third-party video services to its X1 platform, but with Xfinity TV soon competing more directly with Netflix and others on Roku and other streaming devices, that may possibly change as well.
The company also used the announcements Wednesday to push back against the FCC’s plans to open up pay TV set-top boxes. “In light of the success of the apps-based model in the marketplace, the far-reaching government technical mandate being currently proposed by the FCC is unnecessary,” Hess wrote in a blog post on the company’s website.
Update: 1:35pm: This post was updated with a Comcast statement on the FCC’s set-top box plans.