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Time Warner's new Roku app turns your streaming device into a cable box

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Time Warner Cable logo
Time Warner Cable logo

Roku and Time Warner Cable today announced that the cable provider's TWC TV app, which lets subscribers stream over 300 channels of live programming, will be coming to the entertainment platform this quarter. Apart from granting Roku a major new content partner, this is monumental news for another reason: it marks the first time TWC is allowing its cable lineup to be accessed from a third-party, TV-connected device. The company has previously rolled out apps for smartphones and tablets, but Roku's set-top boxes (and even that tiny streaming stick) are the first that can essentially act as secondary cable boxes for subscribers.

Your Roku is now a full-on cable box

"The availability of a service like TWC TV on an open platform represents significant milestones for both Time Warner Cable and Roku as well as for the industry overall," said Anthony Wood, Roku's founder and CEO. Unfortunately, there are some restrictions to just how "open" that experience is. Like the TWC TV apps for iOS, Android, and the desktop, compatible Roku hardware will need to be running on a subscriber's home network to access live TV; you won't be able to stream your favorite channels remotely. And while over 300 stations will be available, you'll obviously be limited according to whatever's included in your cable package.

But even so, it's exciting to see Time Warner Cable loosening its grip on content — however slightly — and opening the door for potential apps on game consoles and perhaps Apple's current (and future) TV products. TWC TV for Roku will be available sometime this quarter for the Roku 2, Roku HD, Roku LT, and the Roku Streaming Stick.