NewTeeVee Live: Roku Readies Channel Store

Roku in the next few weeks will roll out a new marketplace for video channels, enabling users to pick and choose the content that appears on the home screen of their broadband-connected set-top boxes. At NewTeeVee Live, Roku vice president of marketing Chuck Seiber showed off a preview of the new Roku user interface, which included an icon for the device’s new Channel Store and icons for video channels from new content partners Revision 3 and Blip.tv. Seiber said that the company is also adding channels for unnamed photo-sharing and video-sharing services.

The marketplace is one part of Roku’s plan to create an open platform on which any content provider could create their own video channels with a software development kit that the company freely released earlier this year. “We’re trying to turn our product into an open platform, and giving our users all the choice they could want,” Seiber said.

The introduction of multiple new channels brings up questions as to how Roku will change the user interface (UI). “It’s a tough balancing act,” Seiber said. “We started out as a Netflix player, so we had that simplicity and you don’t need a manual to navigate this. We will try to keep this as subtle and as clean as possible, but there’s no doubt our UI will have to evolve.”

Despite the fact that Roku faces increasing competition from consumer electronics device manufacturers that are building over-the-top services natively into HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other broadband-connected devices, Seiber said the company continues to do well.

At the same time, he said that the introduction of higher-priced connected products actually help to educate consumers about the availability of Netflix streaming and Amazon On-Demand services available on the device. He noted that on the same day that the availability of Netflix streaming was announced on the PlayStation 3, Roku had one of its best sales days ever, as consumers researched and chose its relatively low-cost solution. “In the short term, what we have is a really inexpensive product. It’s a very simple value proposition that someone can wrap their heads around. It’s a cheap and low-risk purchase,” Seiber said.

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