As you may have read earlier this week, the Roku Media Player ($99, Amazon) has a new channel in the form of Major League Baseball. Which is monumental as far as I’m concerned. Because it allows folks to subscribe to premium, live television programming without going through a television operator. And unlike Boxee, which also landed MLB.TV (and $6 million), Roku is truly a hack-free set-top device. (Which also travels well.)
As you can see in the video I shot above, MLB on Roku allows subscribers to watch all out of market games. Not only can you join a game in progress, you can optionally start playback from the opening pitch. Given the buffering, similar to Netflix video streaming, using the transport controls to jump around could be frustrating. But, overall, video looked good enough – I imagine most baseball fans will be quite pleased.
As the season is winding down, a new MLB.TV subscription runs only $35. While existing MLB.TV Premium subscribers are entitled to access at no additional cost. If Roku were able to work a similar deal with say the NFL or SEC for live football, I’d be willing to overpay for access. No doubt about it.
Bonus coverage: Towards the end of my video, watch the menu flip around as I work my way into a hidden service menu Super Contra style. (home x5, rw x3, ffw x2) Here you can override Roku’s analysis of your network and force it to stream at a specific bitrate and/or turn on debugging to see what those observed speeds and issued streams are. Practically, these may not have much use. But when was that ever a requirement for an interesting hack?
Click to enlarge: