Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box. Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide.
The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes. But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt.
As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees.
Many in the industry have long predicted eventual death for the box, driven in part by a rapid migration by pay TV providers (including fiber and satellite-based companies) to Internet standards for both video content and services, and by the enthusiastic response of consumers to a growing number of Internet-based alternatives. These include Roku, as well as Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, SlingTV, Sony, HBO and many others.