Starting Tuesday, Comcast will allow its customers to use Roku as a secondary cable box. Those who have a Roku — one of the best streaming devices around — released in the last couple of years or a Roku TV can install the Xfinity TV app and try the feature out before it heads for a wide rollout later in 2017.
Xfinity TV For Roku
The news comes nearly a year later after Comcast announced the development on its Xfinity TV partner app for Roku and Samsung. The integration paves the way for Comcast customers to watch live programming sans the cost or hassle of a cable box.
"[T]he app will allow Xfinity TV customers to watch live and on demand programming, including local broadcast and Public Educational and Governmental channels, as well as their cloud DVR recordings, delivered over Comcast's secure private managed network, on Roku devices in the home," wrote Andrew Ferrone, Roku's VP of Pay TV, in a statement.
The Xfinity TV beta app can now be installed via Roku's channel store. The upshot here is, of course, for customers to eventually replace their cable box with a Roku device if they're so inclined.
Beta participants will be privy to full live and on-demand programming, as previously mentioned, in addition to playback of cloud DVR recordings. What it lacks, however, is the ability to rent or purchase content, and play a customer's previously bought content.
What You'll Need To Use The Xfinity TV Beta App
The Roku needs to be connected to the home Wi-Fi network to fire up the Xfinity TV beta app, and it won't work if customers take the streaming device elsewhere.
Those worried about the app adding to the total Xfinity internet data usage plan shouldn't be: Comcast says the service delivered through the app is not internet-based, but a Title VI cable service provided by Comcast's own cable network, so it shouldn't count toward users' internet data usage plan.
During the beta phase, however, at least one Comcast cable box must be in the customer's home somewhere. Comcast says this prerequisite is because of "technical limitations."
Participants of the beta app don't need to pay fees to use it. However, Comcast will impose additional outlet charges for connected Roku devices once the app finally rolls out widely.
While certainly good news for owners of Roku streaming devices, the concept of Roku acting as a cable box has been explored: Spectrum has been offering a similar service for quite a while now. Comcast has also previously experimented with the same type of service on Microsoft's Xbox 360.
The Xfinity TV beta app will only work on the following devices, but take note that TVs with inbuilt Roku will also be supported:
Ultra (4640), Premiere+ (4630), Premiere (4620), Express+ (3710), Express (3700, 3710), Roku TV (5XXX, 6XXX: Models within the 5000 and 6000 range), Streaming Stick (3600), Roku 4 (4400), Roku 3 (4200, 4230), and Roku 2 (4210).
Planning to participate in the Xfinity TV App beta testing? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!