Category Archives: roku

VLC prepares to add AirPlay support as it crosses 3 billion downloads

VLC, the hugely popular media playing service, is filing one of its gaps with the addition of AirPlay support as its just crossed an incredible three billion users.

The new feature was revealed by Jean-Baptiste Kempf, one of the service’s lead developers, in an interview with Variety at CES and it will give users a chance to beam content from their Android or iOS device to an Apple TV. The addition, which is due in the upcoming version 4 of VLC, is the biggest new feature since the service added Chromecast support last summer.

But that’s not all that the dozen or so people on the VLC development team are working on.

In addition, Variety reports that VLC is preparing to add enable native support for VR content. Instead of SDKs, the team has reversed engineered popular hardware to offer features that will include the option to watch 2D content in a cinema-style environment. There are also plans to bring the service to more platforms, with VentureBeat reporting that the VLC team is eying PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Roku devices.

VLC, which is managed by non-profit parent VideonLAN, racked up its 3 millionth download at CES, where it celebrated with the live ticker pictured above. The service reached one billion downloads back in May 2012, which represents incredible growth for a venture that began life as a project from Ecole Centrale Paris students in 1996.

Roku adds news to its free channel, including the new streaming network ABC News Live

Last fall, Roku launched its own channel to provide its cord-cutting customers with access to free movies and TV shows in a single destination. Today, it’s adding live news to its channel, too.

In partnership with ABC News and others, The Roku Channel will now feature live news streams and linear news programming, alongside its entertainment options.

ABC News will be the flagship partner for the launch, as Roku will be the exclusive over-the-top home for its new live and linear streaming network, ABC News Live. However, The Roku Channel will also include live and linear news from Cheddar, PeopleTV, and others.

Until now, The Roku Channel had offered a combination of free content aggregated across other partner channels, like FilmRise and Vidmark, plus content Roku itself licensed from studios like Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers.

Since its launch, The Roku Channel has become one of the top 15 on Roku’s platform, and the number three ad-supported channel.

One of Roku’s goals in offering its own channels is to help users find content that would otherwise be distributed across a number of places on its platform. Roku had already done something similar with its “4K Spotlight” channel launched in 2015, as well as with the “Roku Recommends” channel’s curated selection, launched in 2011.

With The Roku Channel, the goal was to organize the best free content you could find on Roku. And with the addition of news, Roku is once again aggregating partners’ streams in one easy-to-find destination.

Of course The Roku Channel isn’t the only way to watch news on Roku – most major news organizations offer their own channel app.

But many of the news experiences available today are based on clips from the linear TV world, instead of a digital equivalent to the 24/7 news channels found on traditional cable television. That means that instead of being able to “flip on the news” as you can on TV, watching news on Roku has been more of a “choose your own adventure”-style experience of browsing clips to find something you wanted to view, explains Roku’s VP of Programming, Rob Holmes.

“We recognized that users are looking for easy ways to find high-quality content and to engage in a lean back experience,” he says, of bringing streaming news to Roku.

The channel will serve as the launch platform for ABC News Live, the news organization’s brand-new live streaming news service, designed for over-the-top viewing.

Roku and ABC had been in discussions about building out a live news experience for over a year – even before the company launched The Roku Channel, in fact. But with its arrival, it seemed like the best place to introduce the streaming news experience.

“Our ambition here is not to re-create cable, but to reinvent what a 24/7 news channel looks like for [the nonlinear audience],”says Colby Smith, VP of ABC News Digital. “We’ve spent the last three years or so really building up our live operation – experimenting with thousands of live streams and production formats. Of course, we consider ourselves expert live producers – ABC News has been around for many decades. But we’ve also analyzed mountains of data through that experimentation to really dive in and understand what works on each screen size,” he continues.

“And what we’ve learned more than anything in non-cable environments is that viewers want to be shown what’s happening in the world, not told what’s happening,” Smith says.

ABC’s live stream will focus on the most interesting thing that’s happening around the globe in that moment, he says. The content, however, may come from a number of sources – ABC News’ own boots-on-the-ground reporting; its domestic or international partners’ streams; or even social media streams cleared through places like Facebook or YouTube.

ABC News Live, like The Roku Channel itself, will be free and ad-supported, but Roku and ABC aren’t discussing the revenue share or how the ads are sold. (It’s a bit unclear, then, to what extent this is a new revenue stream for Roku itself, versus just another means to woo potential customers to the Roku platform.)

Roku is the only streaming platform to host ABC News Live outside of other ABC News properties, including its own Roku channel and the ABC News website and apps.

ABC says it partnered with Roku on the launch because it wanted to work with a distributor that understood the non-linear TV audience.

“There so many distributors that just want to re-create a TV Everywhere experience, or just want to plop in cable into a digital environment for cord cutters,” says Smith. “That’s not at the heart of what we believe in.”

The channel itself will offer some scheduled programming – including its own take on an hourly news update, in addition to the live stream. It may also cut to its post-White House press briefing coverage at times, and it may stream its Emmy-winning ABC News featured stories during breaks from live coverage.

In addition to ABC News Live, The Roku Channel will also integrate Cheddar’s linear news feed, which has also newly become available on Hulu and YouTube TV. And it will include the ad-supported pop culture and celebrity news network, PeopleTV, from People and Entertainment Weekly.

Roku OS 8.1

The Roku Channel will also get a slight makeover alongside the launch of news. It will now organize content into thematic “Collections,” and “Continue Watching.”

The updates will launch in May with the release of Roku OS 8.1, which will add multicast private listening through the Roku mobile app. That means up to four people on iOS and Android can listen to the TV through their headphones, instead of through the TV set itself.

Roku Unveils The “Roku SE,” A $50 Entry-Level Streamer, Discounted To $25 On Black Friday

image003 Roku recently addressed the needs of those looking for a premium media player to complement their new, 4K TV with the launch of the Roku 4, but now the company is moving to the other end of the spectrum with a device aimed at the low-end of the market. Today, the hardware maker revealed a low-cost version of its Roku player, the Roku SE, which will be affordably priced at $49.99 and discounted… Read More

HBO NOW Goes Live On Roku

hbo-now-logo As some noticed when Roku this week announced its upgraded 4K-ready streaming media player, the Roku 4, the product packaging featured a highly-anticipated addition to Roku’s channel lineup: HBO NOW. The premium network’s over-the-top offering has been one glaring omission from an otherwise robust lineup of programming options on Roku’s platform, which today includes more… Read More

Latest Amazon Fire TV Features 4k Video, Alexa Voice Assistant

Fire TV and Fire TV Stick Amazon just took the wraps under the latest Fire TV, and just like the leak stated, it sports 4K video and improved voice search thanks to integrated Alexa support. Best of all, the new and improved Fire TV will still sell for the same price as its predecessor. The Fire TV packs a new 64-bit quad-core processor and a dedicated GPU. Combined with a new codec called High Efficiency Video… Read More

Apple TV’s Share Of Over-The-Top, Authenticated TV Viewing Is Growing

apple-tv-pacman1 Ahead of next week’s Apple event where the company is expected to debut new Apple TV hardware and software which may include support for an app store and a cable-replacing streaming TV service, Adobe has released its new video benchmarking report that indicates Apple TV has been increasing its share of over-the-top viewing. Specifically, over the past quarter, Apple TV increased its… Read More

Roku And Innovid Roll Out Interactive Video Ads, Including SMS-Based Reminders To Watch

roku-innovid Roku users will now begin to see more personalized, targeted, and interactive video ads in their Roku apps, thanks to a new partnership between the streaming media device maker and video advertising provider Innovid. Using a Roku remote, users engaging with the new ad format will be able to do things like play games, take quizzes, check out a local retailers’ top products or current… Read More

Showtime’s Standalone Streaming Service Coming To Roku, PlayStation Vue

showtime When Showtime debuted its standalone streaming service aimed at cord cutters last week, there was some speculation that Apple had scored another exclusive for its platform, similar to its deal with HBO NOW, as Showtime noted it would initially be available on Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPod touch and Apple TV. It appears that Showtime was not locked into an exclusive deal after all,… Read More

Nielsen Will Begin Measuring Video Ads On Roku

Roku 3 Voice Search In further proof of the rise of streaming video services and the cord-cutting trend in general, TV measurement firm Nielsen today said it would begin to track viewing data and audience demographics across Roku’s 10 million+ devices, including its media players and Roku TVs. The move is being heralded as an industry-first by the two firms, as it will allow advertisers to measure… Read More