Light Reading

Roku Sticks It to Google

Mari Silbey
3/5/2014
50%
50%

Although Roku's second-generation streaming stick will not officially launch until April, the company is already taking pre-orders, as it prepares to take on Google's popular Chromecast device.

Ringing in at $50 at retail, the new HDMI adapter from Roku Inc. doesn't beat or even match Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s $35 streaming stick on price. But the new Roku entry does come with a slew of content options that Chromecast can't match, including ESPN, Showtime, and Amazon Instant Video. It also comes with a remote, which means that users can access apps on their TVs without needing a smartphone or tablet nearby.

Retail companies have released a flood of media-streaming boxes over the last few years, but it looks as if 2014 will be the year when streaming sticks take over the market. Aside from Google and Roku, several companies have indicated (or flatly announced) near-term plans to launch their own tiny TV hardware. Plus, MobiTV Inc. has partnered with Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) to create a white-label HDMI dongle that it says will be deployed by a wireless carrier sometime this year. (See MobiTV Takes Aim at the… TV.)

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), meanwhile, has new gear from the acquisition of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s OnCue service that it's readying for launch. At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, & Telecom conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam indicated that the OnCue hardware is closer to the size of a streaming stick than to a traditional set-top. "The set-top box in an OnCue environment is a little bit bigger than the end of my thumb, so it's very easy to tie into the LTE as well as the WiFi network," McAdam said. (See Why Did Verizon Buy OnCue?)

The one area where streaming sticks may not gain ground in 2014 is the cable sector. Despite wanting to spend less on set-tops, cable operators have to deliver more features and better-quality service than most consumers expect to get with over-the-top video. So they're feeling a bit hamstrung right now. (See Can Cable Stick One on Chromecast?)

Even with cable companies sitting on the sidelines, though, the market for HDMI adapters is heating up. Roku and Google are in the lead, but there are more streaming sticks on the way.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(12)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
3/8/2014 | 4:17:59 PM
Google vs. Roku
I was wondering a little about the price difference between Chromecast and Roku's stick, but if you get access to all of Roku's apps vs. what Chromecast has, that's a pretty good deal.
theschnack
50%
50%
theschnack,
User Rank: Moderator
3/6/2014 | 4:50:43 PM
Re: Roku
No doubt.  The Roku 3 was cheap, high-quality audio / video, low-footprint.  I don't understand the push for the stick, other than an easy counter to Chromecast & its perceptions.
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 3:58:26 PM
Re: Cable STBs
The division between slim streaming dongles versus full-sized set tob boxes makes me wonder which side Apple will take when it really tackles the living room market. Apple TV suggests they'll stick with a full STB, but maybe they have something else in mind? 

Given Apple's Carplay development, maybe it will partner with cable companies to create a high-end STB experience? That would be my guess, especially because Apple isn't known to target the low end of any market when it introduces a new product.
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 3:53:49 PM
Re: Concerned
All four of my HDMI ports on now taken up. 

FOUR HMDI ports.. that's luxury. I only have 2 HMDI inputs on my TV, so I'm going to run into a scarcity problem very soon -- unless I want to invest in some kind of adapter cable for my other TV accessories.

If only Aereo operated in my town... and had a Chromecast app. Maybe someday.. If the courts allow Aereo to continue to exist.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 12:07:55 PM
Re: Roku
These sticks are exactly why Comcast and TWC are merging. People are spending less on cable. There could be a time soon when a younger generation doesn't pay for television in that way.

In order to compete, the cable providers want to merge together in the industry. Plus, Comcast owns a lot more content now that they have NBCUniversal. 
Jessie Morrow
50%
50%
Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 11:24:18 AM
Concerned
All four of my HDMI ports on now taken up. What to do when the next greatest dongle rears its head? I see some hard deceisons head and most certainly staking out a plot for a new graveyard for old passe sticks.
TaraSeals
100%
0%
TaraSeals,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 9:12:03 AM
Cable STBs
I think it's no surprise at all that cable's sitting out the OTT hardware and dongle frenzy--basic delivery of video to a television (this is OTT after all, bent on cheaper alternatives to fuller-featured cable boxes and subscriptions) is not their game. I think it's interesting that OTT is getting more streamlined and focused even as cable and satellite experiences are getting fuller--whole-home DVRs (the Genie, the Hopper), cloud-based gateways (Xfinity X1 and X2 for instance) and network-based delivery of services. New competitive battle-lines are being drawn that are different from event three months ago.
KBode
100%
0%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 7:40:10 AM
Re: Roku
Yes I simply mean using the Aereo app on Roku. The image quality didn't bother me nearly as much as it seems to have bothered other people. Also only a few times ran into any buffering issues, and that's over Wi-Fi. Also found all the channels to be a welcome change; I'm not sure why Microsoft insists they're embracing the next-generation of TV with the Xbox One, yet they faile to provide immense options Roku provides in terms of apps/channels. It's not as if licensing most of them cost Roku much if any money, but the variety is impressive.

In fact my ONLY complaint with Roku has to do with their Netflix app, which only uses Dolby Digital Plus for output. My receiver is from 2008 (ancient history, apparently) and doesn't support DD+. Every other incarnation of the Netflix app (on the Playstation, Xbox, etc.) has no problem sending out 5.1 signal using other standards. Even Amazon's streaming app on the Roku doesn't have that problem. But if I want to watch Netflix on the Roku, I have to watch it in stereo.
Mitch Wagner
100%
0%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/5/2014 | 11:51:57 PM
Re: Roku
I'm curious myself how you combine Roku and Aero. Unless you mean simply using both.

Count me as another happy Roku 3 user. The ability to search for desired programming by title, actor, director, etc. is inspired in its simplicity. It beats drilling down into multiple individual apps to find what you're looking for. Simplicity like that gives cable operators stiff competition from OTT services.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 9:29:25 PM
Re: Roku
Interesting, Karl. Can you tell us more, especially about the Roku/Aereo combo? Were there any big viewing gaps left? 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Predicting Traffic Patterns for Quality Mobile Broadband

4|29|15   |   6:45   |   (0) comments


Accessing information ubiquitously creates complexity and creates heavy traffic onto the network, especially at large-scale events like sporting events or festivals. In this video, Huawei's Mohammad Hussain speaks to experts about how to predict traffic and improve user experience during periods of heavy traffic.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network functions virtualization (NFV) is not the easiest of topics to take on board, so here's a Light Reading infographic, developed following conversations with the folks at HP, that helps make sense of where NFV is taking the industry.
Hot Topics
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Verizon Saves 60% Swapping Copper for Fiber
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 5/19/2015
Bidding War for TWC Looks Likelier
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/22/2015
Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/20/2015
Smarter 'Dumb' TVs Will Drive OTT Adoption
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/18/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
I recently popped down to Texas to chat with CEO Eric L. Pratt about his company, Taqua.
Cats with Phones