Tuesday, October 11, 2011

By CitizenBot, courtesy of Big Shiny Robot!

Several of us at Big Shiny Robot! have and love our Roku boxes. For the uninitiated, Roku is a little black box (in the case of the LT model, it looks like they will go slightly more purple) slightly larger than a deck of cards that allows you to stream all sorts of content directly to your TV.  Specifically, in my house we mostly use Roku to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and their Newscaster service, which collects newscasts from most of the major networks and cable channels. During the Arab Spring protests, it was fascinating to watch al Jazeera via Roku.

Via their blog today, Roku announced a new $49 player, the Roku LT, which comes in under their other players which cost up to $99.  They also announced the addition of a new channel, HBO Go, which will allow current HBO subscribers to stream all of HBO's original programming, which sets an interesting trend for Roku.

For us, we bought two Roku boxes to replace our cable and unplug from the beast. Our Netflix and Hulu + paid subscriptions would be all that we would spend on paid television.  Most of the people I know who have bought Roku boxes have done so for that very reason- HBO Plus seems to be an attempt to entice current cable subscribers, or at least just give them another platform to stream the HBO content across.

This may also have implications for other players, such as Netflix.  With HBO playing ball with Roku, it possibly signals that they are less interested in inking a deal with the Red Envelope Streaming Giant and want people to subscribe via cable if they want to stream Sopranos, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, or Game of Thrones.

*Sigh*  I doubt that this will make me go back out and sign up again with TimeWarner (those bastards!) or Dish, but it probably will mean that I will find a friend who had HBO and has no interest in streaming to mooch off of.  Or, possibly, HBO Plus will allow an a la carte option, which then means I could pay them $4.99 a month for their content.  Worth it, in my opinion-- at least until I've watched everything and want to shut it off.

However, the bottom line is this-- for $50, and just in time for the holidays, you too can join the Roku family.  For that price, I may buy a third so I can take it on the road with me when I travel to hook up to hotel tvs, etc. But I think for at least a couple of the people on my holiday list, I may get them a Roku.

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