Roku: “DVR is Dead”

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2011

TechCrunch has posted a series of video interviews of Roku CEO Anthony Wood. Who also happened to found Replay TV, one of the first two DVR products on the market. (Yeah, the other would be TiVo.) If nothing else, the link’s worth hitting to tally up the number and variations of “kill” and “death” in a classic Rambo-esque style. And the lede is particularly dramatic, “Meet the man who killed the television industry.” While there’s clearly a (small, but growing) number of cord cutters, neither Roku nor the DVR have yet killed the television industry. They’re doing quite fine. Not to mention, as I recall, the television industry had a hand in killing Replay TV. Having said that, I’ve been a huge fan of Anthony’s work as a satisfied owner of ReplayTV, Soundbridge, and Roku devices. In fact, we wholeheartedly recommend Roku here at ZNF… to augment pay television. Sure the landscape is evolving, and fast, but let’s keep it real.

23 responses to Roku: “DVR is Dead”

  1. I should also add that some of the best content on Roku, the cable killer, is swiped – such as HGTV using their iPad feed and the unofficial YouTube channel (created by an official employee).

  2. The DVR is dead.

    Yet my TiVo/FIOS/Plex combo produces terrabytes of desired programming that gives me everything I could want at a reasonable cost, while giving me a back catalog of HD programming that doesn’t require expensive subscriptions to maintain access to.

    And I can easily view my programming on my lean-back, as well as on mobile devices.

    CableCARD is dead. Yet we live in the golden age of CableCARD.

  3. Yup yup. It COULD be a cable killer if the content was more complete.

    For some it may work, if they don’t need sports or only watch certain shows. But then you follow the whim of content owners. If they want to remove access on the Roku, they can. The content industry is still in control.

  4. The interviewer and Anthony were spectacularly undynamic in those interviews. wow. That said, il cut aw some slack for having a pretty good vision and he is sort of a pioneer. Their approach this time out is much better. And roku is on their game getting the amazon prime stream support right out of the gate. But they will need a ligit front man if they ever want to go public as he said.

    Does the roku box stream from local nas?

  5. People use the word “killer” in an attempt to to sound definitive and drive traffic to their extremely speculative words. I’ll not be clicking the link.

    I tried to cut the cable two weeks ago when my Roku arrived, but internet only is $25 more expensive than internet and basic cable. I imagine having TV subscribers is valuable to Comcast’s advertising division.

    So I’ll leave my series 2 hooked up till they shut off the analog signal I guess. Seems like I have a robot decoy watching Comcast’s commercials while I work through my Netflix queue.

  6. Andy, Roku recently added the ability to (officially) access media from USB drives but a blessed LAN/NAS solution isn’t available. There’s some community stuff worth checking out though, like Roksbox. And, yeah, I’m with you on the interview style/presentation… it’s only the MDK (murder, death, kill) that made it bearable. ;)

  7. BTW, Dave, you really ought to download and do a post on Plex.

    Given that they’ve just rolled out a Windows media server to accompany their Mac media server, and given that they have a Mac client, an iOS client, and that the iOS client is reputed to work on jailbroken AppleTV’s, it’s high time you checked it out. (Not to mention that a deal is supposedly done to have a client built into new LG TV’s quite soon.)

    It’s beta software. But the media server, (at least on the Mac side), is of release quality. It’s superb software for media management and serving. (The Mac client leaves some things to be desired, but works adequately. And supposedly a totally new Mac client is due for release in late spring or early summer.)

  8. My 3 year old “Lifetimed” TiVo HD is doing quite well for me for free OTA TV!

  9. If you can’t offer me live, HD, college sports then you blew it.

    Until streaming can offer all of the sports that cable offers, we, the public, are sticking with cable. As long as I’m paying for cable, I’m going to manipulate it to the hilt and not mess with streaming!

  10. While ROKU is currently the best streamer on the marker its poor performance as a local file player (such as ripped Bluray .ISO files.) has me enjoying my Boxee Box more.

    We spent all day Saturday just watching TV using only the Boxee Box. Never turned on the satellite system once. If the Boxee Box had an OTA tuner and a hard drive to record from the OTA tuner it would be almost perfect.

    Roku needs to work on its local media playback and if they do it as good as the rest of the Roku is now they will be the streaming media leader.

  11. “If you can’t offer me live, HD, college sports then you blew it.”

    It’s not just sports. It’s also news. It’s also ad-supported network programming that DVR’s let you skip past the ads.

    And it’s also about cost. If I had to pay for all the programming I currently locally cache from cable via a streaming scheme, I can guarantee I’d pay more than I pay for a decent cable package + cheap 2TB platter drives.

  12. And that’s the thing… the existing television industry, including the cable providers, is going to be providing some of that “over the top” content. Like ESPN3. I watch it on my Xbox, but I require a Cox or FiOS subscription. Comcast is streaming live TV to an iPad, and it sounds like Verizon is planning something similar.

    I agree with Scott though… a Boxee Box with OTA tuner would be pretty kick-ass. Although I can’t actually get much reception at my former or current location. Might consider an aerial at some point, but I like things on cable and all in all it’s a decent value as Chucky points out. (Yes, I need to get current on Plex.)

  13. I get access to ESPN3 even though I’m only subscribing to Comcast internet and while it’s nice to be able to catch the Friday night fights, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the way it works. For some reason the NBA/NFL/MLB have all prevented their games from being time shifted so unless you’re willing to schedule an appointment to see TV, it’s kind of limited in how much it can help. When you also add the requirement of an XBox Live subscription in order to bring it to the console, it really has very little value.

  14. But the DVR is dead, Davis. ;) No time shifting for you! It’s all going to be archived and on demand.

    But my point was that the entrenched cable, satellite, Internet providers will continue to be major players as we evolve.

  15. What’s a “Roku”?

  16. I’d suggest that the Roku/Netflix is more instrumental in killing Blockbuster than the DVR.

    With bandwidth limits, both throughput and pricing/quotas, I’m loath to commit to a streaming-only solution.

  17. Dave, thanks for the roksbox link. I used to own the original Roku Photobridge and it was great but Anthony unceremoniously ditched the product support and stranded a pretty active user base. That box was all about local storage / network storage playback. But they figured out that stuff was for the geeks (#selfincrimination) so this time out they are focuing on simplicity it seems.

  18. Okay, these folks seriously need to get a little dose of reality.

    Look, I have good internet access, but lots of folks don’t. Either their broadband access speed is low (like 2Mbps or less) or its flaky as hell. Comcast works great where I live but in Boston at least it seemed to be very iffy. I suspect the number of people who could actually stream even 720p30 HD video even if they wanted to is probably in the 20% or less range. Then remove the people who have caps that are low enough to mean you couldn’t watch much TV. At a gig a show, you can blow through Time Warner’s 40GB caps watching an hour a day.

    Like others I’m fine with my cable and Tivo HD and SlingBox setup. I have access to current shows, live events, sports, movies etc on my schedule and watching only the commercials I want. I can watch at home, on any TV in my house. I can access shows from the internet. I can watch all of this on my iPhone or iPad wherever I am at any time.

    I think Roku is cool and all, but with the exception of Seinfeld, I pretty much saw most of the older shows I wanted to see when they were on TV.

    And for all you sports guys, you really shouldn’t be hoping for the great channel unbundling as from the surveys I’ve seen a majority of cable subscribers would drop all those expensive sports channels like a hot potato if they were allowed to and your costs would likely triple. Many sports channels would likely fail in the process. My opinion anyway. Be careful what you wish for.

  19. “I’d suggest that the Roku/Netflix is more instrumental in killing Blockbuster than the DVR.”



    “I suspect the number of people who could actually stream even 720p30 HD video even if they wanted to is probably in the 20% or less range.”

    What is coming is not the imminent death of the DVR.


    What is coming is a cornucopia of low-cost, low-PQ material via IP.

    The audience is folks who just don’t care about PQ. They either consume most of their media in non-lean-back situations, or they are highly budget-conscious.

    Those folks are going to have a cheap feast. All the pricing power is in high-PQ material.

    “And for all you sports guys, you really shouldn’t be hoping for the great channel unbundling as from the surveys I’ve seen a majority of cable subscribers would drop all those expensive sports channels like a hot potato if they were allowed to and your costs would likely triple.”

    Yup. Bundling is actually great for the savvy media consumer during the golden age of CableCARD.

  20. I think Redbox and Netflix had more to do with killing Blockbuster then anything.

  21. I’ve adjusted with my TivoHD, OTA-only, plus downloads from Amazon’s Unbox, plus some Netflix streaming.

    No ESPN, but no $100/month cable bill either (the regular price w/ one DVR)

    The Netflix interface on Tivo is not very well developed, so I’ll likely dump them soon and just order a la carte from Unbox (ABC/BBC/FOX episodes are only 99 cents, even for HD)

  22. My DVRs are doiing a fine job recording content and presenting a nice list of shows in now playing tailored to my needs since I created the list :)
    but if a service came along that let me stop having to build that list AHEAD OF TIME – but instead build the list as I heard about things even if the pilot episode had been out for a couple of months – I would find that better. I and many others like the content convenience over specific format quality so streaming lower quality is no big deal – but the more this industry changes the more content is still King

  23. HuluPlus is my DVR on my Roku. That is exactly what I have been telling my friends for months. That, plus Netflix provides all my entertainment except for one show.

    I still have my old ReplayTV recording the new production of “V”. It seems the makers of that show are still stuck in the 80’s since it is unavailable for legal net streaming.

    Cable killed the ReplayTV, well Roku (or its kin) will kill the greedy cable companies.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold eh, Anthony?