Hate Your Cable Box? Comcast Says There’ll Soon Be an App for That

You don't need a stinking cable box, says … Comcast?

iStockphoto.com | DonNichols

iStockphoto.com | DonNichols

Last week, President Barack Obama came out in support of an FCC proposal to free cable subscribers from the dreaded cable boxes they have to lease from their cable providers. This week, Comcast announced that cable boxes are essentially old news anyway. The Philadelphia cable giant announced its new Xfinity TV Partner Program, which it claims will allow customers to get Xfinity service directly on their TVs and electronic devices without a set-top box at all.

The app will essentially do all of the things a set-top box does — provide live TV, on-demand video, and DVR recordings, but will expand the range of devices customers can use to get their Xfinity service. This includes Smart TVs, a Roku streaming player, or a Roku TV.

Mark Hess, Comcast’s senior vice president of business and industry affairs, said in a statement that Comcast customers “should be able to access their Xfinity cable service wherever they want, whenever they want, on whatever device they want.” 

The cable industry is certainly changing by expanding the accessibility of services to customers via a variety of devices, but tensions are growing high with the FCC.

In February, the FCC approved a proposal to allow consumers to swap out their cable boxes and get their video services through any device, such as those made by Apple, Google, Tivo, and the like. It was viewed as a potentially huge blow to large cable companies.

“The FCC’s proposed set-top box mandate threatens to undermine this highly dynamic marketplace, create substantial costs and consumer harms, and it will take years to develop … all in an effort to achieve what apps are already delivering for consumers,” wrote Hess.

Comcast says the Xfinity TV Partner app will ensure that the service meets programmer agreements and complies with all regulatory requirements including privacy protection, Emergency Alert System messages, closed captioning, and video description. The app is expected to be available later this year.