March 20, 2013
Time Warner Cable, Roku Make Nice
By Joyce Wang
When you think about Roku, forget cable killer. How about cable partner? The video streaming service recently signed a deal with Time Warner Cable to launch the op’s dedicated channel, TWC TV, on Roku, allowing subs to stream live programming for free. “This will be the first time TWC TV is available on a consumer streaming device connected to a TV,” said Mike Angus, TWC svp and gm of video.
Calling Roku “a great partner,” Angus dismissed the notion that teaming with streaming service providers will hurt the pay-TV business model. More than 70% of Roku’s customers have pay-TV subscription, he said. The main source of demand isn’t driven by people wanting to cut the cord, Roku content gm Steve Shannon recently told CableFAX Daily
. The reality is Roku provides “a lot of interesting options and products” and “we want to be part of that offering,” Angus said. Meanwhile, the goal of teaming with streaming service providers like Roku is to provide “a novel customer experience,” according to Angus. For example, the Time Warner Cable Roku channel doesn’t have a traditional program guide. Instead, there are thumbnails of shows and movies. Viewers can search by channel or by show/movie. The company is looking at different options for subs to navigate the channel but the goal is not to duplicate the set-top box experience.
Going forward, Time Warner Cable will continue to define additional ways to provide viewing options and content to subs. The bottom line is creating the flexibility for subs to watch content across platforms, which is why traditional TV and alternative viewing options will co-exist in a consumer-friendly way, he said.
Time Warner is far from alone in trying to get on the streaming wagon. Roku also is partnering with DISH to offer its subscription-based service. Comcast Xfinity made its On Demand content available to subs through Xbox 360 and TiVo Premiere boxes. And AT&T U-Verse continues to explore options to make TV content available on tablets and mobile devices, a spokeswoman said. U-Verse subs can stream Internet video to their TV with the Twonky Beam app, which lets subs “beam” their video from a smartphone to a TV. DirecTV sees Roku as “a good alternative” for consumers but “at this stage we are focused on our TV everywhere initiatives on mobile devices and our set top box VOD product,” a DirecTV spokesman said. “We believe connected devices, in general, are important to pay TV providers and will see different applications by each. DIRECTV is focused on its RVU alliance to ensure there is a very open standard for any connected device to interoperate with DIRECTV hardware” he said.
Time Warner Cable's Roku channel