Video: Roku Launches Channel Store with Facebook Photos, Pandora and More

Roku vice president of marketing Chuck Seiber only gave us a teeny-tiny sneak-peek at the new Roku Channel Store at NewTeeVee Live couple weeks back, but the company officially launched the feature along with ten new free channels today.

Roku owners will now be able to get content on their big screen TV from: web shows (though NewTeeVee videos weren’t available yet when I searched)
Facebook photos: see yours and your friend’s pics on your TV, or use…
Flickr: for photos, if you prefer
FrameChannel: lets you view photos and updates from your social networks
MediaFly: web shows and podcasts
MobileTribe: another service to connect you to multiple social media sites
Motionbox: for personal video sharing
Pandora: lets you listen to Internet radio
Revision3: original web shows like Diggnation
TWiT.TV: Leo Laporte’s raft of tech-related content

Linking your Roku box to these services is snap, though you will need your computer on hand to enter the proper registration codes (see video embedded above for a demo).

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Roku Launches the HD-XR and an SD Entry-Level Box

Though the world got an unauthorized sneak peek at it last week via Engadget, Roku officially unveiled its new HD-XR player today, along with a new entry-level set-top box at a lower cost.

The new Roku HD-XR adds 80211.n wireless support (the regular HD Roku supports 802.11b and g). The new HD-XR also has a USB port “for future use,” according to a Roku rep. The Roku HD-XR will run you $129.99, with the existing HD player remaining at $99.99.

The company also today introduced the low-end Roku SD, which only supports SD streaming and has no HDMI, component, S-Video or Optical audio outputs, and costs just $79.99.

We haven’t had a chance to put the HD-XR through its paces yet, but you can enjoy these lovely product shots!


HD-XR with remote front

HD-XR rear

HD-XR back

SD Rear

Roku SD back

And don’t forget that Roku CEO Anthony Wood and I are having what will surely be a fascinating fireside chat at NewTeeVee Live on Nov. 12! Get your tickets today.

One Quarter of Home Vid Rentals to Be OTT by 2014

Over the top and on demand are increasingly how people want to consume — and pay for — their video, if new numbers from The Diffusion Group hold true. The research firm estimates that by 2014 revenue from in North America from on-demand video delivered via over-the-top methods will grow to $2.1 billion, up from $621 million in 2009.

To provide some context, TDG pegs U.S. DVD rental revenue at more than $8 billion by 2014, which would make OTT rentals roughly 25 percent of home video rentals.

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ZillionTV Going Direct to Consumers

product-image41ZillionTV announced today that it is expanding its distribution strategy with plans to sell directly to consumers, and has delayed the commercial launch until the second half of 2010 from its initially anticipated debut by the end of this year.
Zillion CEO Mitch Berman told us by phone that the company still plans on using telcos and other ISPs as the primary means of distribution for the service, but in areas not covered by such partnerships, it will sell its set-top box and service direct and will eventually ape the Netflix (s NFLX) model by getting on as many net-connected consumer devices such as Blu-ray players and broadband TVs. The company expects to see products with ZillionTV embedded inside them by the end of next year.
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Netgear’s New Box Takes Aim at Roku

Netgear LiveNetgear (s NTGR) will release its Digital Entertainer Live set-top box next week, as the company tries a less techie approach to getting over-the-top video to your TV.
The simplified set-top box looks like a router, but is more reminiscent of a Roku with its small, unassuming design. The box is powered by Verismo’s VuNow technology and pipes in web video from YouTube (s GOOG), CinemaNow, and other live and on-demand Internet TV channels (BBC, Revision 3, etc.) as well as connect to your personal media stored on your home network. You can also search for web video through vTap, and access Hulu and Netflix on your TV through the PlayOn software.
Priced at $149, the DEL is aimed at the Roku set (though the Roku is fifty bucks cheaper), and is half the price of Netgear’s more powerful Digital Entertainer Elite ($399). But can Netgear compete with the Roku?
To be fair, I haven’t run the DEL through its paces, but Netgear sat me down for a demo of the device yesterday. Some of it is definitely cool, but there are some big red flags I can see that might hamper widespread adoption of the device.
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Vudu Content Coming to LG TVs, R.I.P. Its STB?

VUDU_Logo (2)Vudu said this morning that its content would soon be available — sans set-top box — directly on select models of LG televisions. At the same time, Vudu unveiled its second-generation service platform for net-connected televisions, which means more deals such as the one with LG are likely to follow. Perhaps it’s time to take a moment, bow our heads and mark this as the day the Vudu hardware died.
The new Vudu service will debut next month on LG Broadband TVs and according to the press release will feature:

  • Instant start viewing with no buffering, and movies can be fast-forwarded or rewound with no buffering delays
  • 1080p resolution with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound
  • Access to new release movies, available day and date with the DVD release
  • More than 2,000 titles available in HD or the company’s HDX format

Of course, this also means that LG TVs are getting a direct porn channel, thanks to the adult content available through Vudu. A Vudu rep said that the naughty bits will be available with parental controls for those who want it. What’s unclear is whether Vudu Labs will make the move directly to the TVs. Launched late last year, Vudu opened up its platform to include web video from Brightcove and YouTube (s GOOG), as well as web services like Flickr (s YHOO).
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New Research: The Evolution of Over-the-Top Video

Over at GigaOM and NewTeeVee, Om, Liz and Chris have helped define the broadband video market as it’s evolved from a YouTube-on-PC world to one where more consumers are watching top-tier studio content — and talking about it — on that 46″ plasma in their living room. Our new 22-page report from TDG’s Colin Dixon analyzes how the lock PayTV operators have had on consumers’ wallets is starting to break, as new entrants such as Hulu, Microsoft and Netflix enter the living room.

On Mark Cuban’s “Video Lie”

Mark Cuban has another lightning rod post up over on his Blog Maverick entitled The Great Internet Video Lie that discusses the futility of over-the-top video delivery. Cuban’s a fun blogger to read because he takes a position and goes all-in with it. His post begins:

Internet Video. Its the salvation for content creators everywhere. Its the end to dependence on the big bad meanies, the cable and satellite companies. Right ? Hell no. The concept that “over the top” video creates a valid business alternative for content creators is as misguided an internet business myth as there is.

For grins, lets say you want to start a business for which you want to stream, live or on demand, any video. Any quality. You want the ability to reach merely 10k simultaneous viewers. Not a big number. In fact , its a tiny number. Its certainly not competitive with any form of traditional TV, but its a starting point. So to stream 10k simultaneous streams, what are your choices ?

The only real choice, Cuban explains, is to use one of a handful of CDNs, and those CDNs are prohibitively expensive. Those high costs make the CDNs just as much of a gatekeeper as the cable and satellite providers. In fact, given the technical limits of broadband, cable and satellite operators are a better bet than trying to go over the top with your video.

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