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Roku Set-Top Box Gets A/V Aggregation Service 66

DeviceGuru writes "Mediafly's A/V podcast aggregation service will be added to Roku's $100 digital video player set-top box this fall, the companies report. This puts the companies on a path to compete directly with According to Mediafly, its service will provide free access to 'tens of thousands of audio and video podcasts' from NBC, CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central, and other sources. Roku VP Jim Funk notes that Mediafly is using a new Roku Developer Kit to ease the task of developing its add-on for the Roku box. Surely the cable companies are reading the writing on the wall!"
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Roku Set-Top Box Gets A/V Aggregation Service

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  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @09:20PM (#28777291) Homepage
    Hulu has shows like The Simpsons, The Office and The Daily Show. Mediafly has things like 'highlights' from Hardball with Chris Matthews and third-rate stand-up comedians. The fact that Dennis Miller is second from the top in their comedy selection shows how far they're stretching for content.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my Roku box- $100 for the device and $9 a month for a Netflix account is cheaper than cable- but I doubt I'll be using this part of the service.
    • If their podcast directory includes online-only networks like Revision3, this will be huge. Going to their site, I see they have Diggnation and other Revision3 shows. Diggnation has a huge following. There's a lot of good, original programing on Next New Networks as well as ON Networks. I ignore all the breadcrumbs that the larger commercial networks pass off as podcasts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ironwill96 ( 736883 )

      I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the PlayOn software that i've been using for the past year. It only cost me $30 and as long as you already own some sort of game console (360 and PS3 are supported now, Wii support coming soon) it is a better solution than the Roku box.

      You run the PlayOn software on your machine and it transcodes internet streams into a format your console can recognize as a media server over your home network. I can watch things from Hulu, CBS, ESPN, Netflix, Youtube, and Amazon VO

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Rude Turnip ( 49495 )

        I've got 2 PlayOn licenses for 2 houses; it is a lifesaver because it pretty much kills cable for me (along with Netflix and video podcasts). Make sure you check out to download more stream plugins. I've got Adult Swim, HGTV and a few other networks added. Not my thing, but you can also download plugins for pr0n from RedTube. The newest version of PlayOn lets you stream local files saved on your computer.

      • Playon has one huge flaw, it's windows only. It worked 'ok' for me running in virtualbox, but it's still essentially crippling a computer to use. Out of the five computers and laptops in our household, the only thing with native windows on it is an eee. Which has proven pretty lackluster for playon. I understand why it's windows only, but doesn't make that fact any less annoying.
  • $8.99/mo is a pretty good deal to bypass Hulu ads. Not to mention the Watch Instantly content library. Oh, and there's something about DVDs too.
    • $8.99/mo is a pretty good deal to bypass Hulu ads. Not to mention the Watch Instantly content library. Oh, and there's something about DVDs too.

      I don't mind the Hulu ads. Over a half-hour show it's only what... 4 commercial breaks 15-30 seconds a piece? Now if they increased it to more-than-one per break or something I might stop using it as much (save for stuff I can't find on TV anymore) but for now it's comfortable.

      Would I be willing to pay each month for only getting no commercials? No, not unless they also offered another couple of features like higher-res and more content.

      If I really wanted, I could probably give up Cable and rely on Hulu

      • Hulu looks pretty good on my 47" when I set the stream to high quality and as a bonus most things are in widescreen. I have noticed that the majority of commercials on Hulu do not appear to be paid for advertisements. My concern is that if Hulu achieves more success the number of ads will increase to the point where it is essentially identical to watching television except I do not have the capacity to record and skip the ads.
  • Let's hope so, no need for both Cable and Internet service with this sorta thing
    • Of course there's no need for both things. There's also no need for 300 cable channels when I only want to watch 5. Unfortunately, I assume logic will continue to be irrelevant when when cable and satellite companies are also the high speed internet companies. The rules about what constitutes a winning hand may have changed, but they're still the only ones holding any cards.

  • Yes I'm sure cable companies are worried about a provider like Roku that needs a broadband connection which just added support for podcasts that no one listens to. Nice feature but hardly a cable killer.
  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @10:02PM (#28777579) Homepage

    If it's an "Audio / Video Aggravation Service", isn't it directly competing with offerings like Fox News?

    I don't see how they can possibly compete with that level of aggravation. Now that I have figured out it's not all a joke, just watching that makes my eyes bleed.

    • I was gonna say that my cable TV company already has a lock on the A/V Aggravation market but you beat me to it.
      • I was gonna say that my cable TV company already has a lock on the A/V Aggravation market but you beat me to it.

        I actually misread the title, at first, as "Roku Set-Top Box Gets A/V Aggravation Service" and my first thought was that Comcast (my ISP) will surely be suing for IP theft or patent infringement.

  • who cares about podcasts? gimmie tv shows..

    One of the things i love about boxee is the sheer amount of TV shows i can watch on hulu, joost, cbs, and others..

    Quit trying to compete with each other and give the market what it wants, all shows, on demand. Advertize your brains out like you do on broadcast tv, and let people fall all over themselves trying to make decent interfaces for your content.

    Seriously. I don't care what the holdup is, just hurry up and make TV like this.


  • by nloop ( 665733 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @10:26PM (#28777689)
    Grandpa doesn't use the internet for the internet, he's not going to use it for his TV! This is going to fall into the realm of torrents and text messages, generational.

    That and their content is pretty lame.
    • Not to mention half of the United States gets their internet from cable companies.

      • I get my internet through the cable company. I also subscribe to the basic cable service for $15 additional a month because without a cable subscription, they charge me an additional $20 for internet only service.
    • Most grandpa's I know don't have cable, or if they do they just have the basic cheapest package.

      If you don't think they'll feel it when enough people with the $120-160/mo packages switch to internet based TV then I have this bridge I'd like to sell you.
  • It is about time! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wdhowellsr ( 530924 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @10:39PM (#28777767)
    I was Roku buyer number 247 and can tell you that without question this is the most in demand device in our family. Netflix offers over ten-thousand videos for free and Amazon offers another five or ten-thousand for rental or purchase.

    I've been a slashdotter for a very long time so I'm not some slacky for Dish, Roku or anyone else but I can tell you that if I can have a Roku on each TV in my house and have the ability to watch what I want when I want in HD for free I'm sold.

    The resolution of the picture when connected to a decent broadband source is very good. The downside is that all of the providers will give you free access in exchange for forced commercials. I've got no problem with that and hope than one day soon we can watch any content, including new movies, for free with the understanding that we will be required to watch commercials.

    There is nothing more beautiful than telling my seven and ten year old to go on Roku so Mom and I can have some "Private Time". It works every time.
    • I've got no problem with that and hope than one day soon we can watch any content, including new movies, for free with the understanding that we will be required to watch commercials.

      Nothing wrong with what you say but - wow, it's like we've gone full circle, back to the days when "Ozzie and Harriet" was brought to you by Coca-Cola (or was it Pepsi?). The shows are free; but the only way to "skip" a commercial is to leave the room.

      I hope Tivo's not listening...

      • I don't see this as a bad thing; I find it refreshing to watch a show and have them directly thank the sponsor for supporting the programming. It's right out there and they aren't trying to bullshit you with annoying product placements.

      • I'd rather see product placement i.e. Truman Show than 20 minutes of ads per hour.

        • I'd rather see product placement i.e. Truman Show than 20 minutes of ads per hour.

          Sometimes I agree. Every now and then there's an episode of something free of commercials with product placements. Shows like 24 and Leverage have done it and the main thing was they'd have a couple of glam-shots of the car/watch/etc they were pitching as well as 1-2 throw-away lines about how cool a car was or its features.

          Now, when they do the above AND have normal commercial breaks it gets frustrating.

        • I agree, but the product placement hasn't reduced the amount of commercials. (Maybe it has reduced the *growth* in quantity of commercials, which would effectively be the same thing -- but we don't know that for sure.)

          Though I hate regular commercials(*), I will watch some product placement. I often but not always will watch the product placement at the beginning of Jimmy Kimmel, and they did a funny one with a big disclaimer on Conan last night too.

          (*) I think I still end up seeing most of them at least

    • by Shihar ( 153932 )

      About damn time is right. I really like my Roku box. The Netflix on demand works great and looks good. The selection is still a little iffy, but it is more than 'good enough' and getting better. The Amazon unboxed is nice if I really want to watch an episode or two of something. That said, it kills me that I can't tap into any of the awesome video pod casting that is out there. There is no good reason why I shouldn't be able to snag some Revision 3, TWiT, or any of the other quality video pod casts ou

      • More than someone elses podcasts, it bugs me that I can't just stream video from my hard drive over to the roku.
    • I've got no problem with that and hope than one day soon we can watch any content, including new movies, for free with the understanding that we will be required to watch commercials.

      I hope that one day we can watch any new content at the click of a button, with the option to view it with commercials for free, OR to pay for a commercial free version. Either way the provider gets paid, so they should offer the option to their viewers. Personally, I don't tolerate commercials with anything except for sports.

  • I dunno if the roku player will actually play towards eliminating the cable television industry but hopefully this device and others services of its ilk will force some changes to the draconian 4 tier system. I refrain from subscribing to cable tv simply because I don't want to support 90% of the programming I'd be purchasing. If I could choose an a la carte type plan that allowed me to buy the channels I actually watch instead of paying for lifetime, MTV, and Fox News; I'd happily pay for it. Until then Hu
    • The problem with A La Carte is the affect on everyone else for price and/or availability. I'm not against a la carte, but it would have consequences.

      For price
      Offer a la carte pricing and you break the bulk rate plan either on the consumer side, perhaps the Cable company's side as well. Which is fine until you start adding up the items at which point the price saving might not be as large as you think. Those 10-20 cables channels might cost you as much as 70-channels-worth from the old plan.

      For content

  • I use x-box and netflix, I do not have cable, satellite, or an antenna hooked up to my big screen. I'm busy making sure friends and family know about the savings, and am trying to wean them off of commercial television as well.

    It's been over six months since I saw a television commercial. And I'm damn glad of that.

  • Be nice if they released their Roku Developer Kit. Couldn't find it in 10 seconds of googling. I guess we'd still need a way to get any custom app to talk to the box. It'd be pretty nice to use this box to stream from my own computer.
    • Agreed, I'd be very appreciative if anyone could point us in that direction. Seems like it'd be a hell of a lot of fun to play around with.
  • ... if they would make the box also serve other purposes, such as receiving free over-the-air TV (tuner, 8VSB demodulator, ATSC decoder), un-encrypted cable channels (add QAM demodulator), and play videos from flash or hard drive (USB slot for hard drives, flash drives, and DVD drives, as well as SD/SDHC/SDXC slot for memory cards). Then all it needs is ethernet and wireless interfaces to the LAN, and it can do all these wonderful things. Oh, and it will need an HDMI output.

    • by phrend ( 690126 )
      Have a look at the specs for the Roku player ( It already has WiFi, wired Ethernet, and an HDMI port. Why add all of that additional hardware that would drive the price of this affordable "little black box" up? Shouldn't your TV already have an over-the-air tuner? If your house has Cable TV, don't you already have a cable box to decode the cable company's signal? This is not, one box to end them all. I suspect that most of the Roku player's target market would be satisf
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        The biggest apparent hole in the Roku's featureset is the inability to play the content you already own.

        • The biggest apparent hole in the Roku's featureset is the inability to play the content you already own.

          True. They are not likely to add that capability either. :( Their box costs $100 and has only a very simple remote. They don't want the support costs involved in supporting anything as complicated as CIFS and codec issues. They want to sell an idiot proof black box that requires no after sale support.

          That said, I'd love to be able to stream my music collection through it...

      • by Skapare ( 16644 )

        I have no interest in buying "a box" like that unless it can record TV shows over the air on re-usable media. That and be able to play back videos from the same re-usable media that I record from other means, such as my computer or camcorder. Now that I mention it, it needs to be able to play audio files and slide shows, too. And, of course, support all open standards (well, at least Dirac and Ogg/{Theora,Vorbis}).

        • by cymen ( 8178 )

          That is asking a bit much for $100. I own one and I just want them to provide the SDK that they have announced but not released. Boxes that can do what you want need hard drives and that means noise. Having a backend computer running MythTV in the basement and a Roku player doing the front end would be great. I'd buy at least 2 more if it could that.

  • Aggrivation service? And it's free? Sign me up!

    Actually, these aren't yet sold in Canada since none of NBC, CNN or Comedy Central (not sure about ESPN) allow their WWW content up here, at least not from their own domains. I can see some, but not much content through their Canadian affiliates, I wonder when Roku will be able to do the same. I suppose that would be dependent upon whether or not they're interested in doing business up here. Does anyone know how long a deal like that usually takes?
  • Bandwidth (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So, what kind of broadband service do you need to watch Roku without lag/delay? Can anyone speak from experience?

  • In my lovely city of Bloomington, MN, the only way I can get broadband internet is through the cable companies. No writing on the wall for Comcast around here!
  • If only there was a way to take any video I can now view on my computer and display it on my TV with this nifty box.

    That would be a killer app. There's tons of video I now watch on my computer that I'd rather watch on my TV.

    This should be pretty simple to accomplish with their developer kit, right?

    I'm on a Mac if anyone wants me to beta test this.

  • If you have a decent computer and an xbox/PS3/iPhone then use tversity [] - you get hulu, youtube, all your movies and more streamed to a number of different devices.
  • Yawn.
    I enjoy my Roku box, thanks to Netflix. It was also staggeringly easy to set up with no hassles whatsoever. But beyond that, Roku seems committed to 'pushing the envelope' with deal for crappy, worthless content.

    Amazon 'video on demand' is ludicrously bad offering nothing but *complete* crap for free, or I could watch a second-run movie for more than I'd pay for a theater ticket! $15 for Coraline?...or $10 for the original Ghostbusters?! (wow, what a ... deal)

    I'd have said the only one lamer is Medi

  • I'd settle for just adding the ability to stream my own content onto the box.

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