In our never-ending quest to experiment with alternative challenges to the web (which are increasingly more interesting to our clients), we are in the middle of developing a Roku channel for one of our media clients. For those who don't know what a Roku device is, and why it's interesting, here is a little Roku primer.
A Roku device is similar to an Apple TV or Google TV device: it's an add-on box that adds Internet-streaming capabilities to your television. Instead of "apps," the Roku has "channels." Amazon Prime has a channel that allows streaming of its movies directly to the box. Netflix, Hulu, and the other usual suspects have similar channels.
The main difference between Roku and the Apple TV is Roku's open platform. It wants companies to create channels, unlike the closed systems of Apple. Roku has developed a flexible API (written in a language that is a variation of Visual Basic) and even a micropayment solution that is built into the platform. This means you can charge for content within the Roku environment and Roku will take care of the processing.
You can also easily link a user's Roku device with their online account. If you make content available to members only (as do Amazon Prime and Netflix), you can easily link accounts with the Roku and provide seamless service to the device.
Channels come in two flavors: public and private. A public channel meets specific guidelines and is available to all Roku owners who browse Roku's channel browser. Private channels are available to download from your company's website. In other words, you can develop a channel and direct your users to download it without going through the process of getting it officially recognized by Roku's channel browser.
All of this means it is easy to develop and deploy Roku channels for your business. But, is this applicable to your business? What if you are not a content company like Netflix?
Many non-media companies (i.e., retail) have already embraced channels such as YouTube or Vimeo to post "how-to" educational videos. Adorama and B&H both have video blogs that explain various photography techniques. Home Depot has long understood the use of education as a CRM tool, though its tutorials don't have video at the moment.
ZDNet.com does video reviews of new products, as do blogs like TheVerge.com. Any site that generates videos as an ancillary part of its business should look into other channels in which their videos could live. Instead of just publishing them to YouTube, why not create a channel on Roku or other such devices?
With Q4 looming, it is almost a certainty that devices like the Roku will be hot sellers over Christmas. All those new owners will be looking for content channels. Now is the time to develop on these platforms so they are tested and ready for eager Q4 viewers to experience your brand across yet another non-PC channel.
Until next time...
Internet Television image on home page via Shutterstock.
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March 19, 2014