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Comcast To Open Access To HBO, Showtime Apps On Roku

Following “several months” of negotiations, Roku said it has struck an agreement that allows Comcast subs to access the authenticated HBO GO and Showtime Anytime apps via the Roku platform.

That’s according to a document Roku filed with the FCC on Monday (Dec. 15) that Re/code was first to spot

“Roku is pleased to inform the Commission that effective November 25, 2014, Roku and Comcast entered an agreement pursuant to which Comcast has, among other things, agreed to authenticate the HBO GO and Showtime Anytime Apps on Roku video streaming devices for Comcast’s subscribers whose subscriptions entitle them to access the content and services made available through such apps,” Jonathan Kanter, a lawyer with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP representing Roku, wrote.

The letter, dated Monday, Dec. 15., comes amid Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (which does allow authentication on Roku) and as the FCC tries to move ahead on new network neutrality rules.

Roku’s letter did not elaborate on what “other things” are included in the agreement or reveal precisely when Comcast will allow authorized customers to access HBO GO and Showtime Anytime via the Roku platform.

That Comcast is to allow authentication on Roku isn’t a huge surprise. Speaking at a Multichannel News/B&C event in March, Matt Strauss, Comcast Cable's SVP and GM of video services, said the cable operator had begun to test authentication with “certain programmers” on the Roku platform as it looked to open up new avenues for its TV Everywhere strategy.

Authentication on Roku gives Comcast a direct line into a popular streaming platform – Roku has shipped more than 10 million devices in the U.S. so far.

Update: Strauss posted a blog item about the arrangement with Roku Tuesday morning, confirming that credentialed Comcast customers can now access HBO GO and Showtime Anytime on Roku players and integrated Roku TVs. “With the addition of these channels on Roku, we now authenticate more than 90 network apps on up to 17 different devices,” Strauss noted. “And those numbers will continue to grow as new technologies and platforms emerge.” 

Expect the Amazon Fire TV to join that list in the coming weeks. Amazon announced Monday that it now supports HBO GO on its Fire TV box, and will do the same on the Fire TV Stick by spring 2015.

A Comcast official confirmed that the MSO and Amazon are in talks, and that Comcast will have something to announce with regard to HBO GO “very soon.”

Roku joined the chorus Tuesday with a blog post of its own that also offered a list of other MVPDs that are supporting HBO GO and Showtime Anytime on its platform.