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Summary:

Roku scored a huge coup with its release of the HBO Go app. But not everyone who subscribes to the network will have access to it. In fact, the two biggest pay TV operators in the U.S., Comcast and DirecTV, have decided not to support it.

hbo go roku

Roku scored a huge coup with the release of the HBO Go app on its streaming media box Thursday. But not everyone who subscribes to the premium cable network will have access to it. In fact, the two biggest pay TV operators in the U.S. — Comcast and DirecTV — have decided not to support the Roku app.

The HBO Go app just went live for users to download from the Roku Channel Store, and as pointed out by BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, it provides a better experience than most cable VOD offerings for accessing HBO content. However, the service is only available to subscribers of participating TV providers, a list that doesn’t include Comcast or DirecTV.

With more than 40 million subscribers between them, those operators represent a huge portion of the overall pay TV market in the U.S., but they’re not the only operators whose subscribers can’t access HBO Go on Roku. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision still haven’t reached deals with the network to roll out HBO Go access on any of its platforms, whether it be PC, mobile or connected TV platforms. Altogether, that means that more than half of all pay TV subs won’t be able to use the Roku HBO Go app, even if they wanted to.

HBO Go has proven incredibly popular since it came out about a year and a half ago. The HBO Go iPad app, by itself, has been downloaded more than 5 million times — and has only been available since May. With that in mind, HBO wants to become ubiquitous on as many devices as possible.

When asked about the lack of support by Comcast or DirecTV, an HBO spokesperson emailed the following statement: “HBO GO has been a huge success with HBO subscribers. It therefore makes good business sense that affiliates will want to satisfy their subscribers’ desire to access this valuable product enhancement on all platforms.”

The decision not to support streaming on the Roku is also a little surprising because both Comcast and DirecTV have both made huge strides in opening up to new digital platforms. Comcast, for instance, unveiled its own iPad app, which includes on-demand video content from HBO and other providers — and is launching its own connected TV apps on Samsung TVs and the Xbox 360. Meanwhile, DirecTV is betting big on its Nomad set-top box for streaming pre-recorded DVR programs on laptops and connected devices. Both also support HBO Go streaming on web browsers and mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Furthermore, there’s no contractual reason Comcast or DirecTV users can’t access the Roku app. A person with knowledge of the situation told us there are no amendments needed for those companies to authenticate with one device or another, and the decision to support different devices — or not — is up to the operator.

Roku expects to have sold 3 million streaming boxes by year-end, and CEO Anthony Wood told us last fall that about 12 percent of Roku users go on to cut the cord or cancel their pay TV subscriptions. All of which suggests that the number of HBO Go users with Roku boxes is probably pretty small, in comparison to the 28 million subscriber the network has in the U.S.

But non-support for one device that streams to the TV calls into question support for other connected TV apps that HBO and other networks have in the works. HBO Go will be one of the featured applications as part of Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Live update, and expects to build apps for other connected TV platforms next year.

  1. Well that’s too bad. I have HBO but with Comcast so unfortunately I won’t be able to take advantage of this offer. Although, I think eventually Comcast and Direct TV will get in on it too.

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  2. Positive outlook for RIM outside of U.S. market … http://canuckreport.ca

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  3. Christopher Gioconda Friday, November 4, 2011

    What boggles my mind is that you can use HBO Go on your iphone/ipad/pc with Xfinity Comcast, just not the Roku…very odd!

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  4. Anyone know who at comcast to write and complain?

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    1. I was told to send an email (rather than a phone call) through the “CHANNEL LINEUP” option…the rep from Comcast told me that the people who deal with adding channels to the lineup are the same people who would have to deal with the Roku issue.

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    2. Send a tweet to @comcastcares on twitter:

      https://twitter.com/#!/comcastcares

      Leave a voicemail with the office of the president at Comcast HQ:
      215-286-1700 (say you want to lodge a complaint)

      Write a letter:
      Office of the President
      Comcast Corporation Headquarters
      One Comcast Center
      Philadelphia, PA 19103

      Send an email. Go to:
      http://www.comcast.com/corporate/customers/contactus/contactus.html
      and click on “Send us an Email”. Click on “Digital Cable”. Fill in your info and select “General Inquiry” and “Channel Lineup” (this was suggested as the correct place by a Comcast Rep on their support forums).

      Feel free to suggest other means of making noise about this.

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  5. i have been a loyal direct tv customer for over 15 years .i may not be one for much loger.dish is allowing streaming .dish gives you accessto hbo go and also to epix.what up with these people,not to mention that they now charge extra for everything you can think of .remember net flix . its time for some changes at direct tv

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    1. I agree!! I’m calling to yell at Direct TV. I might be switching too.

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  6. Their reasoning has to be that they don’t want to encourage use of T.V connected devices that may encourage cord cutting. That explains why they allow use of HBO go on ipad, computer, and phone but not on the T.V. I think that their reasoning is short sighted. I for one have Comcast and HBO and I will be considering cutting Comcast and going with a provider that offers HBO Go on the Roku if Comcast doesn’t get this worked out within a month or two.

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    1. That argument doesn’t hold true bc Comcast is launching it’s XfinityTV service on the Xbox in the near future.

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    2. They’re not stopping anybody from watching anything. Any of the shows that I could get legally via HBO Go on Roku I can download from RapidShare or via torrent. Its just that in the first case I have to continue paying my HBO bill on Comcast, while in the second I do NOT.

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  7. I will be leaving Directv for Dish

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    1. Me too if they don’t have something in the works. What could they possibly have against supporting this? Ignorance

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  8. Dail Whiteley Friday, November 4, 2011

    i went to the xfinity facebook page ant i got a quick reply saying that they are not doing this at this time but that i can see all of the great on demand stuff including HBO on an xbox 360 xfinity app thats coming soon. but i have a roku and not an xbox. does me no good.

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    1. HBO Go has FAR more stuff available than HBO On Demand on Xfinity. On HBO Go you can pretty much watch anything that has ever aired on HBO. Xfinity On Demand HBO has a much more limited subset of that. So while I appreciate the effort they are putting into the XBox 360 Xfinity app it does NOT replace my desire for Comcast to support HBO Go on my TV.

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  9. Yet another reason Comast sucks! It’s bad enough they have perhaps the worst customer service of any company in America. And now not to offer such a basic service to paying customers? Just makes them even worse.

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    1. as a small town in WV we pay the highest prices for Comcast and they won’t even give us ON DEMAND! It really sucks here!!!

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  10. There is already many very unhappy HBO Comcast-Roku owners voicing their frustrations, see the Comcast forums.
    http://forums.comcast.com/t5/XfinityTV-Online-Help/ROKU-HBO-GO/td-p/1100271

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  11. I talked to a “suit” at Comcast this morning (they called me, I didn’t call them) and he assured me this is being looked into and will be addressed as soon as possible…it’s a licensing agreement they need to iron out. They’ve been focusing on their Microsoft/XBox Live deal through which Comcast subscribers WILL be able to use HBO GO. That will be available by Christmas…but I’m guessing Comcast will support the Roku by then as well (I was assured if enough people called/emailed and complained, it would be done sooner rather than later).

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    1. Sorry, but if it isn’t an official Comcast statement, who says this is even true? Sounds like the kind of thing somebody could say to make us all shut up and calm down for a while, hoping we’ll forget about the issue. I for one can’t take this statement at face value honestly.

      I for one have set a reminder for December 1. At that point the current run of Bored to Death will be over and I’ll be cancelling HBO if this hasn’t been resolved.

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  12. Contact DirecTV via this link to complain and request the service: http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/global/contentPageIFnorail.jsp?assetId=P4960016#h:609.941

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  13. Hello everyone.. you can use this link to contact DirecTV to request the service. Please do so! http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/global/contentPageIFnorail.jsp?assetId=P4960016#h:563.540

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  14. Well, had been waiting patiently for this. Really looking forward to it. And like many other Comcast/Xfinity customers that all came crashing down when I realized they werent supported. Crap!

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  15. Send a tweet to @comcastcares on twitter:
    https://twitter.com/#!/comcastcares

    Leave a voicemail with the office of the president at Comcast HQ:
    215-286-1700 (say you want to lodge a complaint)

    Write a letter:
    Office of the President
    Comcast Corporation Headquarters
    One Comcast Center
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Send an email. Go to:
    http://www.comcast.com/corporate/customers/contactus/contactus.html
    and click on “Send us an Email”. Click on “Digital Cable”. Fill in your info and select “General Inquiry” and “Channel Lineup” (this was suggested as the correct place by a Comcast Rep on their support forums).

    Share
  16. What a massive failure!!! I am a DirecTV customer with a Roku. Words can not describe my disappointment, especially after reading there’s no contractual reason as to why this can’t happen. I swear, watching old media (and the pipe providers) try to figure out what to do with newer distribution models, is like trying to drive a car with square wheels.

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  17. Hmm… Sounds like a Nexflix moment…

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  18. I’m absolutely aghast at the arrogance of this decision. Why Direct T.V. thinks they have the right to prevent a PAYING customer from accessing a service on any device they damn well please, is beyond me. They will soon see free market competition at its finest, when I switch to Dish Network.

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    1. I think we have to start contacting senators. These companies only listen once you start contacting lawmakers.

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  19. No anticompetitive issues here says Comcast. Sure you’re shelling out 50 a month for broadband and another 20 for hbo but heaven forbid you should want to watch it in hd on an additional television without paying Comcast for another box. I could take it if their boxes didn’t totally stink. It takes 10 minutes to navagate to an on demand show with comcast’s lousy software. Hbo go is so much more user friendly. Truly there is no “free market” in the US. It’s all about who bribes the right people.

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  20. Comcast will never support this because they are making their own roku version.
    I am leaving comcast. they have pissed me off for the last time.

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  21. This is an email response (one of two) that “sets the record straight.” Apparently it’s HBO Go’s choice, not Comcast’s, to not allow Roku users to watch on Comcast. Yeah, right!

    “In reference to you previous e-mail regarding HBOGo our marketing and development team contacted me and advised that:

    Comcast has no control over how/where HBOGo is viewed. The customer would want to provide their feedback to the e-mail address below.

    hbogo2@hbo.com

    I hope this resolves this issue to your satisfaction. If there is anything else we can help you with, please do not hesitate to contact us at.

    Sincerely,

    Sonja
    Office of Rick Germano”

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  22. #hbogo for @roku! Yes! But wait, not for @xfinity customers. Oh. http://t.co/0FW6ljuQ. #superfail

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  23. This is really lame, they have no excuse. There’s no cord cutting threat. I have to pay Comcast for my internet and pay them for cable in order to even have a HBO subscription. They are either stupid or they just don’t like customers. I sent letters and the robo-reply clearly states they don’t give a rats ass about us.

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  24. ummm FYI http://t.co/17Yhe1tG glad i didn’t get one yet

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  25. Does anyone know where I need to go to complain to direct tv about HBO GO on Roku?

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  26. Does anyone know where I need to go to complain to direct tv about getting the HBO GO app for Roku?

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  27. I’ve been with DirecTV for just over ten years. Lately my one receiver has been dog slow, another just stopped working, and the third was never installed correctly (though I’ve been paying $5/month for 18 months). Now, after just hooking up my new XS I find out HBOGO, which I use all the time on my iPad, and was the deciding point for upgrading my Roku, is not supported. I’m really starting to hate DirecTV.

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  28. The BEST solution to all of these problems would be if HBO offered their service for a monthly fee WITHOUT a subscription to cable, like Netflix or Hulu. I would love to get their programming again but I REFUSE to sign up for cable again. I love my Roku box but will not pay Comcast the extra money for a digital box to subscribe.

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  29. Typical Comcrap

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  30. NOT a big fan of DirecTV at the moment. Found this after I tried to activate. No HBO Go for Roku users on DirecTV http://t.co/HgKfrQ04

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  31. crazy. i can have @hbo go on my @rokuplayer player if i were with Dish. But I’m with @directv so that’s blocked? http://t.co/IpdKzIt4

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  32. I am very disappointed with Directv!!! I bought roku on black friday and I am ADDICTED! to this streaming player. I am very disappointed with directv not being a part of the hbo go. Please change before I do

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  33. What the hell are we to do. It’s well past Christmas and still don’t even have HBO GO on the XBOX 360 yet. I’m ditching Directv

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