Comcast Corp. said on Wednesday that it will allow its customers to watch cable TV without needing to lease a set-top box, a move that goes against the Federal Communications Commission’s set-top box proposal. The corporation is making its full TV lineup available on Roku devices and Samsung smart TVs for the first time.

Comcast Corp launched the new Xfinity TV Partner app for smart TVs, streaming sticks, and other devices. Credit: Comcast

Aside from offering access to the Xfinity TV guide, it will offer live and on-demand programming and DVR recordings stored in the cloud. The app will launch first on select Samsung TVs and Roku devices.

“We remain committed to giving our customers more choice in how, when and where they access their subscription,” said Mark Hess, senior vice president in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at Comcast Cable.

The Federal Communications Commission and the White House are forcing operators to decouple their cable TV service from proprietary set-top boxes they lease to customers, calling it the “Unlock the Box” campaign, which, according to the commission, it will create more choices for costumers with the aim of lowering prices and offering better access to Internet video options. This made Comcast launch the app because is the company’s answer to the FCC’s plan that would allow third parties to sell alternatives to TV providers’ set-top boxes.

To use the new app, customers still have to subscribe to a cable TV package from Xfinity, which is Comcast’s brand for its cable TV and Internet services. Comcast’s new program plans to recruit more manufacturers to expand its device options.

The app is built with HTML5, although Comcast says it could be adapted it to devices that do not support that standard.

Comcast’s previous Xfinity TV apps have already been downloaded 23 million times, according to Senior Vice President Mark Hess. He added that the new app will help the corporation meet the demand for streaming TV.

Other pay-TV operators are also virtualizing video service delivery and ditching proprietary set-tops. Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) added as many as many as 192,000 customers to its IP-based Sling TV service in the first quarter alone, according to analyst projections. And AT&T (NYSE: T) will launch several virtualized versions of its DirecTV platform later this year.

Source: The Wall Street Journal