Charter vs. Roku Is the Latest Streaming Standoff

December 15, 2020 Topic: Technology Region: Americas Blog Brand: Techland Tags: CharterRokuStreamingStreaming WarsTV

Charter vs. Roku Is the Latest Streaming Standoff

The dispute means that many Roku customers do not have acess to Spectrum TV.

Roku is still fighting with Warner over HBO Max, while DirecTV’s disagreement with Tegna and Dish Network’s with Nextstar have each continued into their third week.

Now, the latest corporate disagreement that’s keeping customers from seamless streaming is between Roku and Charter Communications, the nation’s second-largest cable company, which offers cable service under the Spectrum name.

According to a report by Light Reading, Roku has blocked access for new downloads of Charter’s Roku channel, Spectrum TV, although those who have the channel downloaded may still use it.

“Despite our best efforts to reach an agreement, Roku has not accepted Spectrum’s offer to continue our contract, which allowed customers to access the Spectrum TV app from Roku devices,” Charter wrote in a blog post. “If you already use the Spectrum TV app on Roku, your service shouldn’t be affected.”

The company went on to state that users can use the app other places, such as their smartphone, tablet, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV or Xbox.

Roku issued a statement to Light Reading about the dispute.

“As America’s #1 streaming platform we are committed to providing access to amazing streaming content at an exceptional value for our users,” a spokesperson for Roku said in a statement. “Our contract with Charter for the distribution of the SpectrumTV (v)MVPD channel on the Roku platform expired and we are working together to reach a positive and mutually beneficial distribution agreement. All existing customers can continue to use the Charter app while we work together on a renewal.”

Light Reading added that the two companies have been “squabbling at the FCC” of late, over what the site described as “Charter’s request to sunset the Commission’s ban on Charter’s use of data caps and usage-based broadband data policies” next May, as a result of the company’s merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Roku had left a public comment disagreeing with Charter’s position on the matter.

Roku remains without an agreement with AT&T and Warner Media to carry HBO Max, an omission that is becoming conspicuous with the news that the company is putting its entire 2021 theatrical movie slate on HBO Max in addition to movie theaters, along with this month’s blockbuster “Wonder Woman 1984.”

There had been some rumblings earlier this month that the sides were getting close to a deal, but none has been announced so far. However, WarnerMedia did announce Tuesday that the HBO Max is now available on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms, which will give another workaround to Roku device users unable to get HBO Max on their devices.

Charter’s CFO indicated at a conference earlier this fall that it’s working on an “IP video aggregation platform complete with new hardware.” In the second quarter, Charter was the only major cable company to add video subscribers, a feat it repeated in the third quarter.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.