Time Warner Cable customers in New York City and New Jersey will be able to use a Roku box in place of their traditional cable box, the company announced today. The trial service is an extension of the company's TWC TV app, which lets subscribers access live television on mobile devices and smart TVs while on their home's Wi-Fi network. The goal is to transition cable from a box customers lease from TWC and onto internet-powered apps and devices.
Reports last month stated that TWC's internet TV option may be an over-the-top streaming service, potentially available on any internet-connected screen. Company spokesperson Andrew Russell said today in a blog post this is not true, at least for now. "The Roku trial is not an OTT (over-the-top) product or streaming service, like Netflix or Hulu," he wrote. "The majority of content will be available only in the subscriber’s home. And it’s the same TV and same packages delivered to the home today over our secure network — you just don’t need a set-top box to watch it."
The Roku trial is not a streaming service
TWC CEO Rob Marcus said in an accompanying statement that the service is aimed first at eliminating the cable box and not at turning cord cutters into cable customers. Down the line, it won't matter "whether [customers] use a Roku or they use ultimately another IP-enabled device," Marcus said. In TWC's ideal world, when you're at home and connected to the Wi-Fi it provides, every screen becomes a television.
TWC competitors like Comcast and Dish Networks are going to greater lengths to tap into video streaming. Comcast is slated to launch a $15 a month internet TV service called Stream next year, while Dish launched its Sling TV service back in February that offers a more limited selection of channels for less than a standard cable package. For now, however, TWC isn't offering a new way to pay for or access traditional cable programming — just one that now works with a different brand of hardware.