Comcast Still Blocking HBO Go On Roku (And Now Playstation 3), Incapable Of Explaining Why
from the crash-the-gatekeepers dept
For years, HBO and Time Warner have refused to give people what they want and offer a standalone streaming video service, because they’re afraid of shaking up their cozy, promotion-heavy relationship with the cable industry. Instead, HBO’s Go streaming service has been made available on desktops and a growing number of devices, TVs, set tops and game consoles — provided you log in with your traditional cable subscriber information. It’s a half-measure, and availability to this day remains a little fractured.
Case in point: Sony this week finally made HBO Go available on the Playstation 3 (despite HBO Go launching in early 2010), but not the new Playstation 4. The new Playstation 3 version works for most cable operators in the country — except for users on Comcast. Why not? Comcast doesn’t really give an answer other than to say the massive (and soon to get much larger) company only has so many people available to ensure TV Everywhere authentication works on new devices:
“With every new website, device or player we authenticate, we need to work through technical integration and customer service which takes time and resources. Moving forward, we will continue to prioritize as we partner with various players.”
Which might almost sound like a reasonable explanation — until you realize that HBO Go on Roku hasn’t worked for Comcast users since 2011, despite Roku being one of the most prominent Internet streaming devices available. Apparently, it’s a matter of priorities? Comcast’s argument for being allowed to acquire companies is always that these acquisitions make them bigger and more efficient. So apparently, getting simple TV authentication to work takes Comcast years longer than every other pay TV operator because Comcast is simply too big, efficient and fantastic?
Now, Playstation 3 users have joined the Roku user chorus, asking Comcast in their official forums why they can’t use HBO Go, and are being greeted by the same silence Roku owners have enjoyed for years. I’m not sure you can get away with calling this a net neutrality violation (I think the term is mutated to the point of uselessness anyway), given HBO Go on Roku will work if you have Comcast broadband — but get HBO from another pay TV provider like Dish. Still, it’s fairly curious how Comcast’s own Internet video and on-demand offerings (which include HBO content) tend to take priority.
The problem illustrates once again how the TV Industry’s “TV Everywhere” mindset fails because it winds up taking value away from the user, not delivering it. It’s also another shining example of how HBO should shake off its fears, embrace innovation, leapfrog the gatekeepers and release the standalone Internet streaming app everyone has been clamoring for.