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Time Warner Cable Bows Roku Channel

8 Mar, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

No. 2 cable operator first to offer live linear channels without the need for a set-top box

Time Warner Cable has initiated service on the Roku streaming player — the first multichannel video program distributor to offer TV access to authenticated subscribers without the need of a cable set-top box.

The app is similar to the cable operator’s iPad (TWC iOS), Android and PC/Mac (TWCTV.com) platforms that deliver more than 300 channels of live linear programming over the Internet. The Roku app doesn’t yet offer video-on-demand compared with the others, and all apps do not have DVR functionality — a situation that might be remedied through cloud-based storage.

The Roku app allows users to browse genre-grouped titles similar to Netflix and Apple TV, track recently viewed channels and create favorite channel lists. There is also a parental control to block channels.

Time Warner Cable said it plans to add VOD content later this year. The app is available to TWC video subscribers with an authorized modem and a Roku 3, Roku 2, Roku HD, Roku LT player or Roku Streaming Stick.

“It’s a great complementary service in the home, offering thousands of programs at their fingertips,” Mike Angus, SVP and GM of video for TWC, said in a statement.

The Roku user interface is similar to Netflix, which is not surprising considering it helped the rental service launch the SVOD market in 2008. BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield believes such Internet-based video interfaces will become the norm as cable, satellite and telco operators integrate multichannel TV data.

“Cable companies are not the most creative companies and their ability to build interfaces for discovering/navigating video will pale in comparison to what others can create,” Greenfield wrote in a March 8 post. “We expect an increasing number of cable companies to embrace this model as it illustrates how they can differentiate themselves from satellite competitors (without broadband, DirecTV/Dish cannot offer a managed service over IP) with superior user interfaces. This should enable cable companies like TWC to gain market share and potentially even charge premium prices for their service offerings.”


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