Comcast Launches Xfinity TV App Beta for Roku Devices

Decider's demo of the app earlier today found it to be an able and almost fully functional replacement for the Xfinity X1 set-top box that is used by nearly half of Comcast cable subscribers, and the new app for Roku is consciously created to mimic the X1's user interface and features. The launch of this app brings another viewing option to Comcast subscribers who own a Roku, and potentially saves money on renting secondary cable boxes for additional TVs. The app allows Comcast subscribers to watch live and on-demand programming, as well as their cloud DVR recordings, via their Roku devices.

In announcing the service, Comcast said subscribers who want to try out the app must have a set-top box in their house, as well as be subscribers to the company's cable television and internet services.

Comcast Xfinity customers can access the Xfinity TV beta app from the Roku Channel Store. From the sounds of it, that need for the cable box won't be around forever, as Comcast is blaming the requirement on "technical limitations" during the beta.

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While certainly good news for owners of Roku streaming devices, the concept of Roku acting as a cable box has been explored: Spectrum has been offering a similar service for quite a while now.

Previously, the Xfinity TV app was only available for iOS and Android mobile devices.

The Roku-Comcast beta app release provides further illustration of the alternately competitive, collaborative relationship between OTT tech-driven video services providers and incumbent cable pay-TV companies. Instead, that content can be accessed via the app on Roku using a customer's Xfinity login information.

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Comcast now charges customers $10 a month to rent cable boxes.

Customers will also only be able to use the app when they are at home and have a Comcast Xfinity-enabled cable modem, TV box, or CableCARD device (such as a TiVo) in use. After launch, however, customers can ditch Comcast's equipment, and stick with just Roku.

Given Comcast's FAQ, though, it appears the cost-savings might not be what they seem.

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This is a great example of why cable providers have been so opposed to the FCC's attempts to overhaul the cable box market. In the future, the app will not require a box, the company said. His GOP replacement, Ajit Pai, has since taken the issue off the FCC's list of items on circulation.