Bloomberg News

Time Warner Brings HBO Go to TVs Through Roku Set-Top Boxes

October 11, 2011

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Time Warner Inc. will begin offering its HBO Go streaming-video service on set-top boxes made by Roku Inc., which said the deal will add 1,400 titles for viewing on big-screen televisions.

HBO Go, which streams all episodes of “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” along with newer programming, will be available for free beginning at the end of October to customers who already receive HBO through their pay-TV service. Microsoft Corp. said on Oct. 5 that its $60-a-year Xbox Live video-game service also would feature HBO Go.

Time Warner, Comcast Inc. and other program suppliers are opening up access to their pay-TV shows to keep their customers from canceling and signing up for cheaper online services from Netflix Inc., Hulu LLC and online retailer Amazon.com.

With more than 300 channels of programming on the Roku box, “Netflix is declining as a percentage of the overall content watched,” Roku Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wood said in an interview.

Roku, based in Saratoga, California, also said it’s cutting the price of its cheapest set-top box to $50 from $60. The lower price will make pay TV available to a wider audience, Wood said.

Roku’s set-top boxes provide Internet links that allow TV viewers to watch movie rentals from Netflix or pipe music from services such as Pandora Media Inc. through their home entertainment systems.

Netflix hired Wood in 2007 to help the DVD-rental company develop an online service. Netflix planned to release its own set-top box until Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings decided to stay out of the hardware business. Wood created a separate company, and Netflix backed it with $6 million.

--Editors: Stephen West, Anthony Palazzo

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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