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article imageOp-Ed: Roku will offer a new free channel on all its devices

By Ken Hanly     Sep 6, 2017 in Business
Roku which has a number of different streaming media players and also is built into what are called Roku TVs will offer a new free channel that will have no-cost content from existing channels plus new material.
The best free material on Roku will now be available in one channel. For those who are not familiar with Roku it is described by Wikipedia as follows: The Roku Streaming Player, or simply Roku.. is a series of digital media player set-top boxes manufactured by Roku, Inc. Roku partners provide over-the-top content in the form of channels. The name comes from the Japanese word 六 (roku) meaning "six" and was named so because it was the sixth company that Anthony Wood (CEO 2002-) started.[2][3] A Roku streaming device gets data (the video stream) via a wired or Wi-Fi connection to an Internet router. The data is output via an audio cable, video cable, or HDMI cable. The device can be connected to any television set (or other video display device) with appropriate input connections. Since 2014 the company has also a type of smart TV which uses the Roku interface as the "brain" of the TV. A number of different firms manufacture the TV including TCL and Hisense with RCA also joining the group as discussed in a recent Digital Journal article.
As well as aggregating no-cost content on existing Roku channels the new channel will also offer movies from partners that include MGM, Sony, Warner, and Lionsgate. Roku offers numerous free channels but also has many channels that require some type of fee. The free channels often have advertising but not all of them. I use Roku on one of two TVs I have but do not have cable on either TV. On the second TV I connect an old laptop to the Internet and then run content through an HDMI cable to the TV. The Roku player also can connect through an HDMI cord. As many TV's now have several HDMI ports, you can keep a computer and other devices connected as well as the Roku player. I have a laptop connected to the same TV as my Roku player. It is good for playing content that you have on a USB stick, external hard drive, a CD or DVD. You can keep your cable if you wish. Being frugal, aka "cheap", I cut the cord some time ago. Roku media players are widely available in Canada for around fifty dollars Canadian and even less for the lower end models. They are quite adequate if you have an older TV or a newer one with no special features.
Chief Marketing Officer of Roku, Matthew Anderson said: "We're at our best when helping a family's entertainment dollar go just a bit further. There are no subscriptions, logins or fees, and everything is in one place." To activate the Roku service you must open an account. However, unless you decide to subscribe to some of the channels that charge a fee there are no charges made to your account. The new channel will have movies with titles such as "Legally Blonde", "Up in the Air" , the Karate Kid" , "Monster" and "Ali". Titles will rotate in and out of the channel. Anderson claims that though the service is supported by ads there will be only about half the time spent on ads as on regular TV. He also says that the ads will be relevant and non-repetitive. Roku is not intending to launch its own original content at this time as Netflix has done. Netflix and several other services can be viewed on Roku if you have a subscription. Indeed Netflix has its own special button. The new channel is to be available on streaming devices in the US beginning today. There is no mention of whether it will be available in other countries such as Canada.
Often Netflix content available in the US is not available in Canada and other countries. This has resulted in many non-Americans using VPN's to disguise their addresses and using the US Netflix which has a great variety of material. However, Netflix has cracked down on this practice as noted in this Globe and Mail article. Roku in Canada also cannot stream some content that would be available in the US. However, I have found that there is a wide choice of material available here. Even if one does not subscribe to Netflix there are a number of full length movies available on You Tube and there are several free movie channels on Roku in Canada already.
Roku is planning on an initial public offering (IPO) worth $100 million dollars. The stock will list on Nasdaq with the symbol "ROKU". Roku needs an injection of funds as it spends heavily on research, marketing, and staff. In 2016 it had revenue of $398.6 million a significant increase of 25 percent over 2015. Net loss in 2016 was $42.8 million. Almost three quarters of its revenue came from selling its media players. The offering is backed by Twenty-First Century Fox, Fidelity, and Menlo Ventures. The IPO will be underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, RBC, and others. The offering should provide the funds needed for Roku's further development.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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