& cplSiteName &

Roku Sticks It to Google

Mari Silbey

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   >   >>
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 11:24:18 AM
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.
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.
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
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.
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   >   >>
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
Wednesday, November 30, 1:00PM EST
SDN & the Software Defined Data Center
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
OneAccess NFV Solutions

10|26|16   |   5:30   |   (0) comments

Antoine Clerget, CTO of OneAccess, discusses how his company has expanded its product line from enterprise-class routers to include a universal virtualized CPE as well as a suite of VNFs to help telco customers evolve to an NFV future.
LRTV Custom TV
The Journey Toward Carrier-Grade WiFi

10|26|16   |   3:39   |   (0) comments

In this Light Reading interview, Dave Sperling, CTO at Smith Micro Software and active participant of the WBA's policy working group, discusses the need for carrier-grade WiFi. Technical and business challenges slowing the fulfillment of this goal are addressed, as well as management strategies that will enable communication service providers to optimize end user ...
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE BBWF Highlights

10|26|16   |     |   (0) comments

At BBWF 2016, ZTE showed a broad range of innovative technologies that are kick-starting an ultrafast broadband journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
Google Fiber Hits Pause Button, Scales Back
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/26/2016
T-Mobile: AT&T & TW Means Ma Bell Not Focused on Mobile
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/24/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
'Oh, Were You Looking for This?' Click Here
'I was just playing some games...'
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.