Comcast appears to be skipping Apple TV Xfinity app in favor of Roku

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Comcast is sidestepping development of an Apple TV app for Xfinity TV customers in favor of its plans for Roku boxes and technology based on Sky's Now TV service, a report claimed on Friday.

Comcast told Apple about its plans in December, shortly after buying U.K. broadcaster Sky, according to BESTAppleTV sources. Now TV is based in the U.K., Ireland, and Italy, but Roku already licenses its platform to companies like Sky, making it relatively simple to adapt that technology to the U.S. During a Jan. 23 earnings call, Comcast executives said they were planning to offer Comcast-branded Roku boxes to Xfinity TV customers sometime in 2020.

"At this time, we have not reached terms with Apple to bring our Xfinity Stream app to Apple TV devices," a spokesperson commented to BESTAppleTV.

Xfinity Streamis already available for iPhones and iPads. Bringing it to the Apple TV would presumably create conflict with the Roku deal, especially if Comcast were to offer support for tvOS 12's "zero sign-on" feature. That lets an Apple TV automatically authenticate a cable provider if it detects the same company's internet service, making it trivial to sign into channel apps.

One of Comcast's rivals, Charter Spectrum, released a promised zero sign-on app at the beginning of January. Effectively it turns an Apple TV into a cable box, giving access to every Spectrum channel and the provider's on-demand content.

Other companies using the Apple TV as a cable/satellite box replacement include France's Canal and Switzerland's Salt.