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Hell has frozen over for Comcast customers: Subscribers to the company’s Xfinity cable TV service can now watch their favorite HBO shows via HBO Go on Roku streaming devices. Re/code was first to report about a deal between the two companies Monday, and Roku confirmed the breakthrough with a blog post Tuesday, which reads in part:
[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”Just in time for the extra holiday streaming time, we’re pleased to announce Comcast has been added to the list of participating television providers that support HBO GO and SHOWTIME ANYTIME on your Roku device. We are glad to be able to bring this long-awaited feature to Xfinity TV customers.”[/blockquote]
Roku first added a HBO Go app to its streaming boxes in 2011. But as with any of these apps that require users to also get the channel as part of their TV line-up, the app needed users to authenticate with their TV provider — and that’s where Comcast didn’t play ball. Comcast did give subscribers access to HBO Go on mobile devices, but not on anything connected to a TV. One reason was that the company wanted to own the experience on the TV screen, and preferred that users access HBO shows through its own catch-up service.
However, Comcast’s hardball stance eventually caught the eye of regulators. At a time when the company is looking to merge with Time Warner Cable, that alone may have been enough to bring Comcast back to the table and give Roku some advantage in striking a deal.
That could also be good news for other device manufacturers. Comcast is still blocking HBO Go access on Sony’s PS3, Samsung’s smart TVs and Amazon’s Fire TV, all of which likely can’t wait to get a similar deal.