Angry Birds Landing On Roku

Sometime this summer, Roku intends to refresh their digital streamer hardware lineup… while simultaneously expanding the platform to support casual gaming. And their first partner is Rovio, a heavyweight in the space and creator of the immensely popular Angry Birds franchise. From the joint press release:

Roku will offer Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio video games; launch an Angry Birds video channel featuring Angry Birds animated shorts; and sell Angry Birds merchandise-all via the Roku Channel Store. The announcement today also marks Roku’s expansion of its successful Internet TV platform to include casual games.

Roku goes on to say they’re lining up additional gaming partners. Yet I wonder if anyone cares? For adults, I see casual gaming as a possibly nice-to-have enhancement (assuming Roku releases a quality remote control)… rather than a selling point that actually moves units. For example, it’s not clear to me that TiVo or Verizon have seen much success with similar television-based casual gaming initiatives. And while I loved Peggle on my iPhone, it just didn’t translate to the big screen via my Xbox 360. Perhaps there’s a market here for the younger crowd. Unless they all have iPhone Touches or pocketable Nintendo units.

Roku isn’t really blazing any new trails, just adding ‘app’ variation to their platform… presumably an expanded SDK will follow. What I continue to hope for is digital media innovation and premium content partners. But, instead of adding top shelf video, Roku has been losing content from the likes of YouTube and CBS and their once cutting edge Soundbridge streaming audio product has been abandoned. It may just be that Roku’s zenith was in 2010. As, in 2011, the cablecos are rolling out desirable live streaming and back catalog video while I similarly expect the likes of Apple and Google to finally (successfully) exert their muscle in this space. And don’t forget Sonos, who holds onto the high-end and has intentions beyond audio.

9 thoughts on “Angry Birds Landing On Roku”

  1. “Roku isn’t really blazing any new trails….It may just be that Roku’s zenith was in 2010.”

    While I am not certain their zenith was in 2010, it is becoming increasingly clear I am not part of the market they are trying to capture. While a 1000 channels of content by year’s end (a recent proclamation by Roku founder Anthony Wood) may be appealing to some, I would settle for a supremely polished UI, an effort to maximize their current premium content (e.g. getting CC and DD 5.1 on Netflix, working with Amazon to improve their channel UI, etc.) and a focus on landing more premium video content such as Vudu and ESPN3.

    As it stands now, it appears as if Roku is betting that a low price, content quantity approach is the path to take vice a path that focuses on more capable (and expensive) hardware and content quality.

  2. Low price and quality content are not neccessarily mutually exclusive. Neither is an improved interface. I suspect many of the premium providers aren’t willing to play ball. If you’re ESPN, you probably want to focus your energies on the MSOs and larger ecosystems like the Xbox. Meanwhile, it looks like Verizon will be bringing (a subset?) of their channel lineup to consumer electronics devices like Blu-ray players. Roku’s hardware sales zenith may be 2011, but regarding innovation (and interest to me) I’m betting it was 2010.

  3. I wish Roku would fix the bug that prevents 1080p support from working on Sony TVs. Currently my Bravia reports that my Roku XR is outputting an unknown signal. My TV supports 1080p and 1080/24p.

    As for Angry Birds, I don’t see how it will even be playable using the Roku remote.

  4. Speaking of resolution, they’ve never supported 1080i which many older HD sets display. The tube TV we unloaded when we moved last fall was never Roku-compatible and a disappointment (in the bedroom).

    Regarding the remote, I assume they’ll be releasing a new remote (with that alluded to new hardware) or a controller accessory. Regardless of how they do it, it’s not what I’m looking for from them. Sigh.

  5. “Roku’s hardware sales zenith may be 2011, but regarding innovation (and interest to me) I’m betting it was 2010.”


    My Roku players were my primary sources for video/audio consumption during the latter part of 2009 and most of 2010. However, in the recent past I am spending much more time with Xbox (Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN3 and Zune music) in my primary and secondary viewing areas and with PS3 (Blu-ray playback, Hulu Plus and Vudu) in my theater.

    I haven’t given up on Roku as I like what they have represented to me up to this point – an a la carte platform that may be viable. However, 1000 channels of very niche content – often with inferior PQ – and gaming apps mixed in with a smattering of premium content is not what I am really looking for.

  6. Given that roku seems to ignore “your media” by failing to embarace or allow DLNA on their platform they’re missing the home market too. GoogleTV will walk all over them in the coming months. C’est la vie.

  7. I can already feel the coming wave of nostalgia for both Angry Birds and Roku…


    “GoogleTV will walk all over them in the coming months.”

    Let’s wait until Google manages to ship a functional platform of any kind before we get too carried away about their prospects in the lean-back space. And proofs of concept don’t count as functional platforms.

  8. Huh, hadn’t really been following the Roku issues. Does seem as though they aren’t exactly killing it with the premium content, which like others is the only thing I care about.

    As far as apps on TV platforms, it’s an as-yet unproven space. Beyond the obvious video apps at least (e.g. a Vudu app, a Hulu Plus app etc). Certainly Google is going to take its second shot at this market sometime this year (late this year now?) and MAYBE somebody smart will develop a cool app that takes the world by storm. Kinda doubt casual gaming is going to be it myself, though its not like having Angry Birds or whatever on your TV is a BAD idea. Just won’t sell the device in the first place.

    As far as the remote control issue, that’s certainly going to be an interesting problem. It appears Google expects you to be able to use your existing remotes (though I kinda expect a redo with the relaunch honestly) to run Android apps on your Google TV. And Apple presumably would support using an iPhone as a remote, but would either of them really sell a gamepad controller? Seems unlikely…

  9. Rovio and Roku should consider having a Wii inspired controller for their gadget. They should try to offer something new that was never seen before in Angry Birds tablet and smartphone version.

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