This is an interesting time for cable TV providers, such as Comcast and others, who charge customers a monthly fee for their set top cable boxes to view cable TV. The Federal Communications Commission (FTC) has proposed measures to open the set-top box market to competition from third-party providers such as Google and President Obama has endorsed those measures.
Comcast rivals Time Warner and Charter, which are merging, already have Roku apps that replace cable boxes and, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Comcast is also launching a Roku app to replace its cable boxes. As a result, Comcast and others in the cable industry contend that their use of these apps makes the FTC action unnecessary. Obviously, President Obama doesn't agree.
According to the Consumers Union, the cost of cable set-top boxes has risen 185% in the past two decades while the cost of televisions, computers and mobile phones has dropped by 90%. The average American family is forced to spend $231 a year renting a box from their cable provider — which combined amounts to about $20 billion annually.
Calls to Comcast's marketing department went unanswered, so it's not known at this time if there is a charge for the new app that will replace the cable boxes. For more information on Roku, go to Roku.com on Google.