Comcast users who want to use a Roku box instead of their Comcast cable box may be in for a rude surprise when they look at their next bill – because Comcast plans to charge a fee to customers who use their own equipment.
Under a new beta program, Comcast has brought its “Xfinity TV” app to Roku boxes. This means that customers who have a Roku streaming box can watch their Comcast cable like they always have, just sans the box. But according to information provided on the company’s support page, customers who use the app after the beta trial ends will have to pay an extra fee. That’s right… Comcast will be charging an extra fee to customers for not using their equipment and watching live TV on Roku.
The company states, “During the Beta trial, additional outlet charges for services to outlets connected to Roku devices are being waived. On conclusion of the trial, you will be informed of the charges that will apply for connecting this device with your XFINITY TV service and will have the opportunity to opt in.”
In other words, after the trial is over, customers who want to use their own Roku device to access their cable package will have to pay the outlet fee (likely $7.45 a month, but more on that below).
For now, users can only access the app if they actually have a Comcast set-top box. Of course, if the additional fee were tacked on at this point, that means people would be double-dipping fees – one for using their box and one for the app. That’s for the “beta” portion of this test though. That limitation is set to go away, meaning anyone with a Roku box can get their cable eventually – no box necessary. Once the “beta” portion of the program ends however, customers will be on the hook for a monthly fee.
The exactly monthly fee hasn’t been announced yet, but most people expect it to be in line with the “using your own box” fee.
Charging a cable box rental fee isn’t new territory for Comcast, as they already charge customers $9.95 a month to rent one. Charging customers who don’t use a box from Comcast isn’t new either, as a $7.45 per month “outlet fee” is already assessed to customers who use their own equipment. Of course, Comcast likes to present this as a $2.50 credit being applied to the user’s account for providing their own box since they aren’t being charged the full $9.95 fee, but make no mistake, it’s still a service fee.
With a fee for renting a cable box, a fee for using your own cable box, and now a fee for using no cable box at all, it’s not too hard to see why just last month, Comcast was named the most hated company in America.