Time Warner Cable’s Cable-Free Cable Is Still Basically Cable, Just On A Roku

Reports dropped a couple of weeks ago that Time Warner Cable was planning to roll out a cable-free streaming option to bring in more TV subscribers. The company has now confirmed that they’re definitely doing that… but not in as flexible a way as consumers had hoped.

It’s less of a pure streaming over-the-top option and more of a simple box switch-out, The Verge explains. Time Warner Customers in the New York City metro area will indeed be able to get their TV by plugging a Roku into their home broadband network instead of hooking up a decoder box to a coaxial cable… but that’s about it.

It won’t be a subscription service that users can access from any connected device. At least, not yet. There is some hope for the future, however, as CEO Rob Marcus said in a recent investor call, “Where we’re headed is the ability of customers to access the complete video product without having to rent a set-top box from us, whether they use a Roku or they use ultimately another IP-enabled device.”

Otherwise, TWC stressed in a corporate blog post, it’s still your same Time Warner Cable service, just delivered through a Roku instead. The difference is that the Roku can also run most or all of your other media apps, making it a one-stop shop for your living room TV.

By launching this trial program now, however, TWC may be making a change just in the nick of time. Regulators and Congress are starting to question the hardware monopoly that rented cable boxes give pay-TV providers, and Cox Communications just lost a class-action lawsuit when a jury found that making consumers rent cable boxes violates antitrust law.

Time Warner Cable tests replacing your cable box with a Roku [The Verge]

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