Comcast, DirecTV Say No-Go To HBO On Roku11/04/2011 5:27 PM Eastern
Comcast and DirecTV -- the two largest U.S. pay-TV distributors -- are not allowing their subscribers to access HBO's authenticated TV Everywhere service, HBO Go, via the Roku Internet-connected set-top in what appears to be a move to avoid lending support to a potential over-the-top competitor.
"We believe this was a conscious decision made by the management teams of DirecTV and Comcast in order to protect their brand and identity in consumers' living rooms," BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in a blog post.
The companies' move to deny access to HBO Go on Roku was reported Friday by GigaOm.
Neither company provided an explanation for why they aren't allowing customers to watch HBO Go content on Roku.
"Every day we're working to make Xfinity TV programming available to our customers in more ways including the Xbox, connected TVs, on websites like XfinityTV and HBOGo.com, on tablets and other devices," Comcast said in a statement. "We will continue to work with our partners to deliver even more choices to our customers in more places."
For its part, DirecTV said in a statement, "We don't have any plans to support Roku at this time."
Greenfield called the actions "simply an unfriendly consumer move."
"This runs in direct contrast to our view of what the MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] industry should be doing to embrace a boxless future," he wrote. "This is simply an unfriendly consumer move by both companies perpetuating suboptimal user interfaces / experiences."
Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems remain the two largest operators that don't offer HBO Go at all, though TWC has said it's working to negotiate a deal to offer the TV Everywhere service.
HBO announced last month that it would be making HBO Go available on the Roku boxes, and the service went live earlier this week.
The premium programmer also has said it plans to provide HBO Go through Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console, in addition to via its website and apps for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. HBO Go, available only to subscribers of the linear TV channel through a participating affiliate, provides more than 1,400 original series episodes, movies and other programs.
Privately held Roku, which has sold more than 1 million set-tops since 2009, provides more than 300 entertainment channels including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Disney.com, AOL HD and FoxNews.com.