Roku’s New Channels: SmugMug, DreamTV

Dave Zatz —  February 1, 2010


Roku ($99) may or may not hit 100 channels this year, but we’re +2 with the addition of SmugMug photos and DreamTV (who?) video. Speaking of channels, I’m about to cave to the studios and pick up a Blu-ray player for new movies, sooner. In addition to physical media, the Sony BDP-N460 (~$200) also claims 25 digital content providers. However, like Roku and beyond the top channels, we’re seeing a lot of niche programming… and junk. Of the 2010 channel land (platform) grab, I’m hoping for more over-the-top (OTT) premium video, like MLB.TV and Netflix.

9 responses to Roku’s New Channels: SmugMug, DreamTV

  1. Forgot to mention one of the reason’s I’m considering that Sony over Samsung and LG… Slacker Radio! People also seem to hate it less than Samsung’s solution.

  2. Home Theater PC is still much better, but difficult to set up than these proprietary solutions. I am testing an ASUS Eee nettop. It outperforms the Roku or SONY Internet connected TV’s by a large margin and has much greater flexiblity. It is more expensive.

  3. A LOT of spirited discussion about this very topic in the Roku forums. While it is nice to see new channels and niche programming can be okay, no one is going to mistake DreamTV for premium content – which I loosely describe as content that people are willing to pay for and/or avail themselves to advertisements. In my mind, Netflix, Amazon, MLB, Pandora, Revision3 and TWiT would qualify as premium content currently available on Roku. My guess is that Roku is having the same problem in landing deals with premium providers as other OTT services are having, or will have.

    Concerning the ‘100s’ of channels that Mr. Wood said they will have by the end of the year, that will be interesting to watch. As of this morning, there are 15 channels in Roku’s channel store. Even if you drop the ‘s’ form 100s, that means Roku would need to add an average of 7.7 channels per month to make that a reality. It seems apparent that the vast majority of the new content will be from individuals that used the recent release of the SDK (e.g. SmugMug) to create a channel or was a previously a niche provider of Internet videos like DreamTV. I am not opposed to either, in fact, some the programs on DreamTV are not too bad. However, it seems to me that Roku is going to have to find at least one premium provider for every 10 – 15 niche channels to maintain interest in their product and service.

  4. I got my brother the Sony BDP-N460 for Christmas instead of getting separate Blu-ray and Roku devices. I liked the simplicity of a single device, and the N460 has the neat Sony Xross Media Bar interface. Plus the cost is about the same or cheaper than getting two devices.

    Just hope Sony keeps adding channels. But for the most part he’s just interested in the Blu-ray movies and Netflix streaming, at least for now.

  5. I think the one advantage of stand alone devices like the Roku DVP will be their focus on continually adding new channels. Conversely, the primary concern for a Blu-ray player will be disc playback, not the addition of new channels. I imagine that Sony and other blu-ray player manufactures see the addition of a few widgets/channels as nice extras to use as a selling point; however, I doubt that they will work to attain the same breadth of content that Roku or other STB providers will.

    Moreover, do-it-all devices typically do one thing well and everything else just so-so, or worse, everything just so-so. While in an ideal world one ‘magic’ box would do everything, the reality is I don’t think most people will mind having multiple boxes, particularly since most new televisions and A/V receivers have mulitple HDMI ports. I don’t have an issue with hanging an STB, a Blu-ray player and a game console off on one television; either directly, via an A/V receiver or an HDMI switch.

  6. One of the reasons we went with the Roku instead of blu-ray is the hope of all the new channels in the future.

    Since we are a family of Indie film nuts, there is a good chance this may happen.

    Just this weekend Sundance announced a new Indie channel that will be available for streaming downloads.

    There is always hope that we can break away completely from “regular” TV.

  7. Bill,

    Some good news for you. Today, Netflix announced that it has inked distribution deals with a group of independent movie distributors that will give its subscribers access to more than 300 new movie streams.

  8. It seems like they scored a few good partners, but don’t have any momentum. By adding these sad channels, the Roku box is starting to stink of failure. What media outlet wants to come in next to Dream TV?

  9. There is also EroticVision.TV available for the Roku and soon other devices of course. EVTV will have content from just about every adult studio shortly.

    But enough of the pimping of our adult channel.

    We’ve got 6 mainstream channels waiting to be published right now. Probably what Dave would consider “junk” but I don’t really look at it that way. The channels will have value to someone. I believe that is kind of the point. The big mainstream content is important, but I’m more excited to see content that I can’t see anywhere else.

    Here is an open offer to your readers. Submit the public URL of a video rss feed to michael at eroticvision dot tv and if the video is the right format (SD/HD video podcasts will work great) we will try to create a channel for that feed for free.