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Cable Operators

No Go for HBO’s Set-Top Play

11/14/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

For Comcast and DirecTV, “TV Everywhere”
doesn’t actually mean everywhere.

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 settop.
The companies apparently want
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.

Neither company provided an explanation for why they
aren’t allowing customers to watch HBO Go content on
Roku. Other distributors that participate in HBO Go, including
Cox Communications, Dish Network and Suddenlink
Communications, do allow subs to authenticate via
the Roku, a feature that went live earlier this month.

“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.com
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.

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 Go is available only to subscribers
of the linear TV channel through a
participating affiliate, providing viewers with instant
streaming access to more than 1,400 original series episodes,
movies and other programs.

The premium programmer announced last month that
it would be making HBO Go available on the Roku boxes.
It also plans to provide HBO Go through Microsoft’s Xbox
360 game console, as well as via its website and apps for
iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

Privately held Roku, which expects to sell 3 million
set-tops by year-end, provides more than 300 entertainment
channels, including Netflix, Amazon Instant
Video, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Disney.com, AOL HD and
FoxNews.com.

September