Comcast is one of only two companies (EA being the other) to be voted by readers of The Consumerist as the "Worst Company in America" on multiple occasions. It's fair to say the cable giant has an ongoing image problem, and Comcast isn't helping itself any by continuing to tick off subscribers, this time by preventing them from accessing HBO Go on their PlayStation 4 consoles.
Much to the initial delight of PS4 owners, the HBO Go app arrived on the console on Tuesday. All a user has to do is authenticate the service through a cable or satellite TV subscription and they're good to go. While the service is working great for subscribers to AT&T, Charter, DirecTV, Suddenlink, and several others, it's a no-go for subscribers to Comcast, the nation's largest Internet and cable provider.
What's the hold up? The folks at TechDirt pressed the issue with Comcast and were given a pretty lame explanation.
"HBO Go availability on PS3 (and some other devices) are business decisions and deal with business terms that have not yet been agreed to between parties. Thanks for your continued patience," Comcast said.
Comcast's mention of the PS3 is even more disappointing -- an HBO Go app was launched to the console almost a year ago and it still doesn't work for Comcast subscribers. Reading between the lines, it's pretty clear that this is a dollars and cents issue, and unless Sony or HBO pays Comcast however many dollars it takes to lift the arbitrary restriction, the cable giant figures it doesn't make sense to let PS4 customers access HBO Go on their console.
Put another way, Comcast is using authentication as a means to block content. We're not sure if that's a violation of the FCC's new net neutrality rules, but either way, it's certainly dubious behavior.
Ah, but there's good news for PS4 owners. HBO is getting ready to launch a standalone app that doesn't need authentication, so hang tight.