Roku scores HBO Go and unveils $49 streaming video set-top
Roku struck a deal with HBO which will allow consumers that buy its over-the-top (OTT) video set-top to access more than 1,400 TV episodes and movies that are available from the HBO Go app.
While Roku distributes a set-top that appeals to some viewers that cut the cord on pay TV subscriptions, the HBO-Roku agreement doesn't threaten cable and satellite affiliates since viewers must subscribe to HBO from Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) or other distributors in order to access the content. Most HBO affiliates charge customers monthly fees ranging from about $15 to $20, depending upon other services that are bundled with their subscriptions.
HBO distributes movies and original series through cable VOD platforms, but most affiliates only offer 10 episodes or less from each series that HBO offers. The advantage of the Web-based HBO Go platform is it allows subscribers to access every episode and movie available in HBO's library, including new series such as Boardwalk Empire and True Blood and popular shows from HBO's archive such as The Wire, The Sopranos and Rome.
Roku also unveiled a $49 streaming video player Tuesday called the Roku LT, which is capable of delivering high-definition video in 720p. The low-cost set-top and content from HBO and other programmers could help Roku compete against Boxee, Apple TV (Nasdaq: AAPL) and other OTT video set-tops.