Saturday, October 17, 2009

Roku Netflix Box

Back on July 31st my fiancée got me the Roku video streaming box for my birthday. She knows my love of video gadgets and she thought it would be something I would enjoy. She was right!

Frankly I had never heard of the Roku box and the gift was a total surprise, since then I've learned much about it because I fell in love with it 5 minutes after hooking it up.

This little box has completely changed my TV viewing habits. I have absorbed several TV series and movies since then and still I cannot find an end to the entertainment this little box has brought!

I'm not going to rave about the box itself, you can find all the info on it yourself at roku.com. What I am going to do is make a simple prediction. That being this box will, in my opinion, change the way we watch television and what we watch.

As I write this article Roku is getting ready to spring a few new channels on those of us who own one. Revision3, Mediafly, and Flickr are coming soon. Netflix, Amazon On Demand and MLB Baseball are already staples of the offerings on "the box."

But there is rumblings that Hulu and UTube will be 2 of the 10 "new channels" Roku has promised to add before years end! The demand is there. And with this possibility comes a whole new reality for anyone who wants to produce a TV show. Imagine being able to watch a favorite UTube channel on your TV in the comfort of your easy chair!

Geeks have been hooking up computers, servers and X-Boxes to their TV for some time now and watching internet on TV. But this box, and units like it will take this out of the hands of the tech heads and put it squarely in front of an average viewer. And that will change the viewing habits for many!

First the ergonomics will change. Most people "read" the internet from their laptop or sitting at a desk. The computer is in another room from the TV and when we watch TV we tend to veg out and relax on the couch or an easy chair. So sitting to watch Utube channels is not as comfortable. We will sit through a few clips but when it comes to total immersion into a show, we want to be comfortable. Bringing the internet to our television allows this.

The second is scheduling. We tend to schedule time to watch TV, after all we have been programmed to do so all our lives. Network shows come on a specific night and time and only recently have we begun to get used to tape delaying programs to watch later. But even with DVR's and Tivo we still set aside time to watch a favorite show. When we are on the computer we spend time bouncing around mostly text sites to sites with video. It's a time to read and watch.
But TV time is more of a devoted period to just absorb the program.

We watch TV together, we surf the net alone. It's a completely different dynamic. However the lines between Television and the Internet are narrowing, and units like the Roku will merge our concept of television in different ways. If you are more than a few days past 30 years old you remember when TV was three channels. NBC, ABC & CBS. Today satellite and cable have added hundreds more.

Satellite and cable introduced us to cheaper reality based programming, but still they are polished and produced by major companies that spend big bucks on the program and advertising. Television has always been trickle down from the networks to we the viewer.
The internet is more raw and may not be as polished.

As traditional television and current internet programming merge you may find that your next favorite "TV" show was not made by a network or major production company at all. It just may be streaming from the kids house down the street!

We are entering the "Mom & Pop" days of television. Nowhere is it written that networks have a monopoly on creativity, and inexpensive production software & hardware have put the ability to produce a TV show into the hands of almost anyone. Up until now the only thing slowing the growth of a creative video explosion was distribution. With Roku and units like it, getting your TV show on actual television sets will become much easier and cheaper.

If Roku is able to get UTube on their box your little vlog could potentially become as popular as major network television shows. It's all in the way we view television. We 'surf" the web, we immerse in TV. We plan, schedule and become addicted to TV shows. However we may forget or never find a clip based channel on a vlog site. Most people will not sit through a long program in front of the computer.
Like gathering around the campfire for storytelling time, we pop the corn and watch the pixel fires streaming from our big screen. We have been doing this since the dawn of time.

Add to this the already growing collection of web based programs that are getting viewers and you can see that internet streaming video could surpass network viewer ship in only a few years. Now is the time for you to start thinking about getting on board. Along with this video revolution will come advertising and plenty of ways a good videographer can market and make money from it. Or you may just find that the idea you have been tossing around for a new TV show can be made by yourself and a hand full of people.

It is becoming more plausible every day. Yes Virginia, you can have a TV channel and your own TV show... on TV!
J.

2 comments:

La Mexicana said...

I have some friends that do not have cable or satellite service. They rely on Netflix and the Roku box. They monitor the type of shows the kids watch, but the kids have a great selection to choose from and watch. As parents, they know that when the kids turn on the TV they will be watching quality shows: no violence, no bad language, no adult content, etc. They love their Roku box.

Bill said...

Jay,

I think you've hit the nail on the head. After hearing and seeing you get the Roku box, it's on my list. I think if it can get Youtube, and the quality (youtube's encoding isn't the greatest,) it will give us all the chance to truly have our own "Channel" that is afterall what Youtube calls it, now it can become more than just a name.

It's an amazing time isn't it?