Are you a Roku user that has been blocked out of using HBO Go on your set top box? It seems it isn’t HBO’s fault, but instead the onus falls to your cable provider.
During an earnings call on Wednesday, Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes discussed the issue of why the HBO Go has been blocked on the Roku device by a few of the cable providers. For those who don’t recall, to use this app on any device you need to log into your cable or satellite providers account to verify that you do indeed subscribe to HBO. Currently three cable providers are not providing support for the Roku version of the app, and those include Comcast Corp., DirecTV and, yes, Time Warner Cable Inc.
Mr. Bewkes express his confusion over the “reticence” of some cable providers to allow their customers to watch content when and how they wanted (gee, that sounds awfully familiar). “As a general principle, we as an industry” should be giving viewers the ability to watch “all their favorite networks on any platform, any device they want to use,” said Bewkes.
Melinda Witmer, Time Warner Cable’s chief video and content officer , said of the situation, “Our video customers have an expectation that we will deliver a flawless experience in the home. Right now we can’t guarantee that experience via HBO’s Roku app.” DirecTV issued their own statement on the matter, saying, “While Roku is an innovative product, our priority right now is to bring the entire HBO library to the television via DIRECTV on Demand where it can be presented in its highest quality format.”
The curious part of this whole issue is that all three companies who blocked the app on the Roku didn’t choose to do the same on the iPad app. The main difference being that Apple’s tablet is blocked from feeding out the videos to a TV via the HDMI adapter. That particular choice was indeed made by HBO as they say mobile devices do not have the proper technology to stop piracy.
Speaking as both a loyal Roku user and an HBO subscriber who happens to use DirecTV, all they have managed to do is annoy me. The Roku allows me to hook up a television in my bedroom where I have no satellite receiver and enjoy a plethora of other content thanks to connecting to my network via Wi-Fi. And if I was a betting man, I would say that is what is annoying at least a couple of these providers as they usually charge for every receiver in a home. If something like HBO Go was to catch on, you could pay for just one receiver in the home, then buy a Roku box (which run as low as $50) and then never have to pay for watching HBO in a second room ever again.
While I don’t plan on leaving DirecTV any time soon, it does make me think twice about their service.
[via The Wall Street Journal]