Developers, Get Paid for Being On TV

roku channel

It’s sometimes hard to get developers to build applications for a new platform, but it helps if you’re willing to pay for those apps. With the launch of a couple of developer contests, Roku and Samsung are going to do just that — offering up prizes as a way to attract developers to build innovative new applications for their connected TV platforms.

Roku’s developer contest was quietly announced late last week and offers up to $10,000 to the creator of the best new channel for the broadband set-top box’s Channel Store. Roku has allocated $35,000 in prizes, giving away $5,000 each for the best new channel in six different categories, with an additional $5,000 added to the best of those six choices. Categories are video, music or audio, photo, social media, screen saver and founder’s choice.

Developers interested in submitting their channels to the contest can do so by Sept. 7, with qualifying channels published to the channel store by Sept. 9. Over the next month those channels will be reviewed by users, with three finalists announced on Oct. 9. The winning channels will be picked from finalists by a different judge in each category, with judges including Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback, actor (and social media expert) LeVar Burton and Roku founder Anthony Wood.

To be eligible, the channels cannot have already been available through the channel store, but may be available through Roku’s private channel mechanism. Also, any content that is displayed and distributed through the channel must be originally created by the developer, or he must have the right to make the content accessible, so no creating Hulu apps unless you actually work for Hulu.)

In addition to opening up the developer contest, Roku opened up new APIs to help developers create those channels. That includes HTTP live streaming, a video player, USB support, and file system access, among other things.

While Roku is just ramping up its developer contest for TV apps, Samsung already had one and named a winner — in South Korea. According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung awarded one developer more than $40,000 as part of a nationwide developer contest held in its home market. The winner was the developer of a fairy-tale reading application allowing users to read and listen to popular fairy tales from various countries on their TV sets in different languages. Samsung plans to have similar developer contests in the US in July and in Europe in September, according to the report.

For both companies, the programs are designed to increase the number and quality of the apps available on their consumer electronics devices. According to Brian Jaquet, Roku director of corporate communications, the broadband set-top startup has 45 different channels available through its channel store, and expects to have more than 100 by the end of the year. Samsung, meanwhile, offers around 120 free applications in 107 different countries for free through its TV Apps program.

We expect TV apps to become big business for companies like Samsung and Roku, as consumer electronics manufacturers and video publishers leverage these tools to monetize content that is available online through broadband-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and other consumer electronics devices. According to a report from GigaOM Pro analyst Paul Sweeting, paid TV apps will bring in only $10 million this year, but that market is expected to grow to more than $1.9 billion by 2015.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: TV Apps Market to Hit $1.9 Billion by 2015 (subscription required)


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