Archive for Roku

Roku And Google Spat Goes Down To The Wire…. And Users May Lose Out

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 21, 2021 by itnerd

You might recall that Google And Roku got into a fight over the YouTube TV App on the Roku platform due to what Roku calls Google’s “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior: That led to the YouTube TV App being yanked from Roku’s app store. Google then added the YouTube TV app to the main YouTube app to get around this. But this is about to get real. Axios reports that if this goes on until December 9th, the YouTube app will disappear from the Roku App store as that’s when their current deal expires. If you have it installed, it will remain. But if you delete it, or if you didn’t have it in the first place, you won’t be able get it. Thus users lose as is usually the case where two companies get into a fight like this.

Roku lays out the reasons why they’re taking on Google here. But it seems really odd to me why this fight is going on in the first place. Roku by far is the dominant player in the streaming hardware space. Thus logic would suggest that Google would have a lot to lose by being on the wrong side of this. But I guess we’ll see who blinks first. If either party blinks at all.

Survey On Streaming Shows Industry has Passed a “Tipping Point”: Roku

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 6, 2021 by itnerd

Content producers, advertisers, and marketers take note, TV streaming popularity continues to rise with 4 in 5 Canadians classifying themselves as TV streamers (versus 3 in 4 who pay for traditional TV), according to The Streaming Decade survey released today by Roku, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU). The annual survey provides insights into consumer TV viewing behaviors and preferences, and how the pandemic accelerated the ongoing shift to TV streaming.

The Streaming Decade survey also revealed that content such as new movie releases (72 per cent), and sports (68 per cent) is a key reason Canadians would try a new streaming service. As well, the ease-of-use, cost-savings, and content quality of TV streaming was shown to have extremely broad, intergenerational appeal among Canadian consumers.

The report also highlights generational differences between TV streaming behaviour, with 98 percent of Gen Z’s; 96 per cent of Millennials; 86 per cent of Gen X’s, and 68 per cent of Boomers using more TV streaming services in the past year.

Additional key stats from the survey:

  • 40 per cent of streaming Boomers added more TV streaming services in the past year
  • 72 per cent of consumers say having access to a new movie release is a key reason they would try a new service
  • More than 8 in 10 Canadians agree that one of the biggest factors when deciding whether to try a new streaming service is if it offers free and paid subscription tiers
  • 42 per cent of TV streamers have ad-supported service
  • 1 in 3 sports viewing audiences watch sports via TV streaming

Full survey results can be found here, and please visit their blog for additional insights and commentary on the results. 

Roku Unveils “Ok, Roku does that.” TV Streaming Campaign

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 5, 2021 by itnerd

Roku today unveiled its “Ok, Roku does that.” TV streaming leadership campaign in Canada building on the momentum of new product launches as we enter the holiday season. With nearly half (46 per cent) of Canadian TV streamers signing up for new streaming services in the past 12 months, the “Ok, Roku does that” campaign highlights the TV streaming platform for the innovation, ease of use, and simplicity it offers TV lovers in a broad advertising campaign across TV streaming, traditional pay TV, out-of-home, and social media marketing in Canada.

The hero of the campaign is a 60 second creative look back in time. Over the course of history, seemingly simple innovations have transformed the world and how people navigate it. The launch commercial moves through a short history of transformative innovations; culminating in the decade of streaming. Sometimes the best ideas are often the simplest. Like streaming made easy — this was the inspiration behind “Ok, Roku does that.”

Additional video advertisements are focused on driving awareness for Roku TV™ models. Roku TV models offer a simplified aesthetic in a home theater as all they require is power and a Wi-Fi connection and they are incredibly easy to set up and use, from the tech savvy to the novice, and continuously improve over time with regular software updates. Features highlighted include private listening, and the vast amount of free content available on The Roku Channel.

Out-of-home and social media campaign elements will play on the same theme as “Ok, Roku does that.” and be on display in major cities around the country including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Roku will also use OneView™, their ad buying platform built for TV streaming, to manage the digital portion of the campaign across desktop, mobile, and TV streaming.

The objective of the campaign is to create long term brand awareness for Roku and future streamers as consumers begin to think about holiday spending. The Roku State of Canadian Streaming survey finds half of Canadian streamers (50 per cent) reported using three or more streaming services, a six per cent increase year-over-year which underpins the timeliness of the “Ok, Roku does that.” campaign. 

For more information visit the Roku blog.

TV Streaming In Canada Accelerates With Ages 55+ Seeing Largest Surge In Adoption

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 9, 2021 by itnerd

Canadian TV streaming continues to grow, offering new opportunities for advertisers, marketers, and content producers. The pandemic has only accelerated this growth, with nearly half (46 per cent), of Canadian TV streamers having signed up for a new streaming service in the last 12 months, according to Roku’s The State of Canadian Streaming Report.

The annual report examining Canadian TV streaming behaviour and trends also found that advertising video on demand (AVOD) popularity is also growing, with Canadian’s time spent with AVOD increasing year-over-year (51 per cent of Canadian TV streamers watch AVOD), allowing advertisers and brands to engage with customers in a more targeted, and measurable way.

Recently, Roku also launched 27 new Live TV channels, all for free for users on the Roku Channel, offering service to cord cutters who otherwise do not have access to traditional media they’ve paid for in the past. Roku continues to update free offerings with Live TV channels, original content like Cypher and the introduction of Roku Originals, creating content with Hollywood’s biggest stars that can be viewed for no additional cost.

The full report can be downloaded here, and additional stats from the report are below:

  • 46 per cent of Canadian TV streamers have signed up for a new streaming service in the last 12 months
  • Canadian’s time spent with Advertising Based Video on Demand (AVOD) such as the Roku Channel has increased by five per cent year-over-year to 2.3 hours total viewing TV time per week
  • 51 per cent of Canadian TV streamers watch AVOD

I have to admit that in my house, My wife and I have spent a lot more time streaming content on my TCL TV that is Roku powered. And Roku’s free channels are helping with that. The only exception is the recent Olympics which we’ve watch on traditional TV. So clearly Roku is onto something here.

Google Adds YouTube TV Channel To Main App To Get Around Roku Related Dispute… Get Ready For Vengeance From Roku

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 7, 2021 by itnerd

You might remember that Google and Roku were in a dispute over the YouTube TV channel that Roku has characterized as an anti-trust dispute. Then Roku pulled the YouTube TV app from Roku’s their store. To get around this, it appears that Google has added a new “Go to YouTube TV” option within the primary YouTube app on Roku which remains available to download on the streaming platform. In short, Google has put the YouTube TV channel into the YouTube channel. And by extension, they’ve now basically dared Roku to pull the main YouTube channel. The Verge has additional details:

In essence, Google has basically stuffed the YouTube TV app into YouTube itself, a solution that seems unlikely to make Roku very happy. Google says it’s “still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” and it notes the YouTube TV app remains usable for those who already have it installed.

But in the event that things totally fall apart, Google says it’s “in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.” A Google spokesperson told The Verge that this workaround is only for consumption of YouTube TV; customers cannot sign up for new subscriptions through the YouTube app at this time.

Roku had this to say:

Google’s actions are the clear conduct of an unchecked monopolist bent on crushing fair competition and harming consumer choice. The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorney Generals and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating. Roku has not asked for one additional dollar in financial value from YouTubeTV. We have simply asked Google to stop their anticompetitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today. In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition.

It now seems that this dispute has gone nuclear. And I’ll be watching for the mushroom clouds.

Roku Yanks YouTube TV App From Their App Store

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 1, 2021 by itnerd

You might remember that I recently wrote about Roku and YouTube getting into a fight related to what Roku calls Google’s “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior. YouTube gave the world a hint as to what was to come on Friday via Twitter:

I can now confirm Roku has yanked the YouTube TV off their store. If you have it installed, don’t uninstall it. And I should note that the standard YouTube app still is available.

Let’s see if YouTube and Roku work out their differences, or this escalates further.

Roku & Google Get Into Anti-Trust Fight…. And Users As Usual Are Caught In The Middle

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 26, 2021 by itnerd

There’s some bad news for users of the Roku platform. The company is warning its customers with YouTube TV subscriptions that the service could go dark in the coming days due to what it calls Google’s “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior:

In a lengthy statement, a Roku spokesperson blasted Google’s actions in detail. The tech giant is “attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users.” The company has also sent an email to customers this morning expressing the concerns. Roku is arguing that YouTube and Google are out to manipulate the user experience to siphon data and tilt search results in YouTube’s favor, among other complaints. It also maintains that Google could require Roku to spend money upgrading microchips or other equipment in order to accommodate YouTube TV. The current agreement between the companies will expire in the next few days. While the Roku statement did not specify a date, this week will see April end and May begin, a turning of the calendar that matches with most distribution contract deadlines.

The thing is that I can see this escalating quickly. For example, Google has pulled the YouTube app off of Fire TV devices before. Which means that users will be affected by this fight. So if you have a Roku device, do not be surprised if the YouTube app disappears from your device in the next few days unless these two companies can work something out.

Roku Announces Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 23, 2020 by itnerd

Roku has some great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for you. Check these out:

Roku Premiere – $44.99
The Roku Premiere allows a simple way to start streaming thousands of free TV, live news, sports, movies and paid streaming channels, including Netflix, Crave, Prime Video and many more in 4K and HDR picture quality.

Roku Streaming Stick+ – $59.99
The Roku Streaming Stick+ features the simple setup and 4K and HDR picture quality but is super-charged with a long-range wireless receiver for four times the wireless range and smooth streaming anywhere in the house. The Streaming Stick+ also includes a voice remote with TV controls.

Roku Streambar – $149.99
The brand new two-in-one device allows users the ability to upgrade their sound and stream their favourite content including Netflix, DAZN, Cineplex as well as Spotify and other music apps, all in clear 4K HD. The Roku Streambar offers all the best of Roku streaming and sound to enhance the experience affordably.

These deals will allow you to get your hands on the best streaming platform at the best prices for yourself or a loved one. Check them out today.

Roku Rolling Out AirPlay & HomeKit Support Starting Today

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 11, 2020 by itnerd

Starting today, Apple AirPlay and HomeKit support is available on select 4K Roku streaming devices, including the Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, Roku Smart Soundbar, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Premiere. And it is also rolling out to Roku compatible 4K TVs as well.

With the addition of Apple AirPlay and HomeKit support, Roku streaming players are now the first to offer compatibility with all three major voice systems, including Google Assistant, Alexa… and now Siri!

Now I have personally seen this hit the Roku Streambar that I have had for a few weeks now. And both AirPlay and HomeKit support is fully functional. However, I have not seen it hit my Roku compatible TCL TV yet. When it hits that, I will do a review of this new functionality. So stay tuned for that.

Review: Roku Streambar

Posted in Products with tags on October 15, 2020 by itnerd

Today I’m reviewing a 2 in 1 device called the Roku Streambar. It combines a Roku streaming device that is capable of 4K with a compact sound bar that is capable of Dolby Audio.

Here’s what you get in the box:

Besides the Streambar and the power cable, you get an high speed HDMI cable, a optical cable which you only need if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI-ARC port, and a remote with AAA batteries.

On the back of the Streambar you get power, optical, HDMI, USB ports along with a reset button. The Streambar does support Ethernet via a USB adapter that is an optional extra. Out of the box you can connect the streaming part of the Streambar to your network via 802.11ac MiMO WiFi.

This is the Streambar set up and functioning normally.

It is tiny by sound bar standards. It also doesn’t take up a whole lot of real estate as it’s about a third of the size of a typical sound bar. That’s great if you need the space. It also has a pair of mounting holes on the back so that you can mount it to a wall if you wish.

Speaking of the set up process, it was laughably easy. I plugged it into the HDMI-ARC port of my TV and then followed the directions onscreen to set it up. Including adding it to my WiFi network and software updates, it took me ten minutes to set it up. I might have been able to set it up quicker if I didn’t put one of the AAA batteries into the remote backwards. As part of the process, the streaming half of the Streambar automatically optimizes itself for my TV so that it can stream in 4K HDR.

The Streambar has four internal speakers that point in different directions so that it fills your room with sound. You can easily tweak your sound to highlight voices for example, or level the sound, or reduce bass. And it did a good job of filling my living room with sound despite being a physically small sound bar. The sound is very rich, clear, and detailed. This was true whether I was watching regular TV, a movie, or playing a video game. I was kind of surprised at a sound bar at this price point could be this good. More on the price in a moment.

The Streambar comes with Roku OS 9.4 which as part of its feature set is supposed to come with Apple HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support. However, I could not find this support for either in the product. A quick email exchange with Roku confirmed that this is still coming later this year. It makes sense as my TCL TV which has Roku functionality that needed to be updated to Roku OS 9.4 so that I can test the Streambar doesn’t have HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support either. But until AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support makes an appearance, you can stream music to the Streambar via Bluetooth which sounded really good. On the downside, I had to switch to the Streambar to stream music via Bluetooth. And I had to use the remote (which by the way supports voice commands) that came with the Streambar to use it. Maybe I am doing something wrong here, but assuming that I am not doing something wrong, I would have liked to see a bit more integration between the two devices.

In my opinion, if you don’t have a Roku device, the Streambar is a great way to get streaming and upgraded sound onto your “dumb” TV. As always Roku brings a large channel selection to the table. So at what this costs, it’s a total win. If you’re like me and have a Roku TV, in my case a TCL TV, you’ll get upgraded sound. But you’ll also get a second Roku device that you won’t be using most if the time. In my case, I only used it when I was streaming music via bluetooth after I was finished my initial testing. But in either case, the Streambar only costs $189.99. So even in my use case it’s still a win. The Roku Streambar is very much worth a look if you want to bring better sound to your TV along with streaming to your TV at a good price.