Peacock is the latest streaming service to skip Roku and Amazon Fire TV

While NBCUniversal is launching its Peacock streaming service tomorrow with support for a variety of platforms (including iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast and Xbox One), two big names are missing from the list — the two largest connected TV platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because WarnerMedia’s HBO Max similarly skipped both platforms. At the time, WarnerMedia simply said, “We look forward to reaching agreements with the few outstanding distribution partners left” — but nearly two months later, no agreements have been announced.

Today’s launch materials don’t mention Roku or Amazon, and an NBCUniversal spokesperson has not yet responded to my request for comment. However, a report last week on CNBC predicted the company was unlikely to reach deals with either platform before launch, and it suggested that there are different issues at play.

On Amazon Fire TV, CNBC reported that NBCUniversal does not want want Peacock to be included in Amazon Channels, where Amazon would get a cut of new subscriptions and would be the one collecting credit card information and other user data. (WarnerMedia is reportedly willing to have HBO Max included in Amazon Channels, but doesn’t want the content viewable in Amazon Prime Video.)

On Roku, the apparent issue is advertising. The smart TV platform has become increasingly focused on its ad business, so apparently the companies have not been able to agree on how much of Peacock’s ad inventory Roku can sell.

As large media companies see streaming as not just a new behavior, but also a way to get direct access to viewers’ wallets, inboxes and data, it’s shouldn’t be surprising that there’d be some friction with platforms hoping for to get the same access. In the meantime, Fire TV and Roku owners will have to wait for the companies to work out their differences.

Peacock is the latest streaming service to skip Roku and Amazon Fire TV

While NBCUniversal is launching its Peacock streaming service tomorrow with support for a variety of platforms (including iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast and Xbox One), two big names are missing from the list — the two largest connected TV platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because WarnerMedia’s HBO Max similarly skipped both platforms. At the time, WarnerMedia simply said, “We look forward to reaching agreements with the few outstanding distribution partners left” — but nearly two months later, no agreements have been announced.

Today’s launch materials don’t mention Roku or Amazon, and an NBCUniversal spokesperson has not yet responded to my request for comment. However, a report last week on CNBC predicted the company was unlikely to reach deals with either platform before launch, and it suggested that there are different issues at play.

On Amazon Fire TV, CNBC reported that NBCUniversal does not want want Peacock to be included in Amazon Channels, where Amazon would get a cut of new subscriptions and would be the one collecting credit card information and other user data. (WarnerMedia is reportedly willing to have HBO Max included in Amazon Channels, but doesn’t want the content viewable in Amazon Prime Video.)

On Roku, the apparent issue is advertising. The smart TV platform has become increasingly focused on its ad business, so apparently the companies have not been able to agree on how much of Peacock’s ad inventory Roku can sell.

As large media companies see streaming as not just a new behavior, but also a way to get direct access to viewers’ wallets, inboxes and data, it’s shouldn’t be surprising that there’d be some friction with platforms hoping for to get the same access. In the meantime, Fire TV and Roku owners will have to wait for the companies to work out their differences.

The Roku Channel expands to include over 100 live channels, adds a Live TV guide

Roku is expanding its free live, linear channel lineup that’s part of its free movies and TV hub, The Roku Channel. In the U.S., Roku customers will now be able to stream from over 100 live channels, including those offering free access to news, sports, movies, TV, kids and family programming, lifestyle content, and Spanish-language programming. Along with the expansion, Roku is also launching a new Live TV guide to make it easier to browse through its free content.

The update would seem to position Roku as a more of a direct challenger to rival free video streaming services, including Pluto TV and XUMO. The former was acquired by Viacom (now ViacomCBS) in 2019 for $340 million while XUMO was bought by Comcast earlier this year for over $100 million.

But instead, Roku is working in partnership with those companies — its free live channels include content that’s powered by XUMO as well as Pluto TV.

Also among the new additions are a video news channel from Reuters and A&E’s streaming networks Lively Place and Crime360.

Roku has been rapidly expanding The Roku Channel hub since its launch in September 2017. While it initially focused on offering of a selection of free, ad-supported movies — similar to Vudu’s “Movies on Us” or TUBI, for example — it has grown to include a range of free content, including TV, news, sports and even live channels, as well as add-on premium subscriptions.

Today, the hub offers over 100,000 titles, including free movies and TV reaching Roku’s estimated 36 million users.

The hub makes Roku a top choice for cord-cutters, as it centralizes access to free streaming content. The ad-supported content, meanwhile, contributes to Roku’s bottom line. The company today generates more money from its platform business than its device sales. Even amid the pandemic which saw advertisers pulling back, Roku booked $232.56 million in platform revenue in Q1, which includes ads and licensing fees, versus just $88.21 million in device sales.

Roku says the hub continues to grow substantially faster than its overall platform, with a greater than 100% increase in streaming hours year-over-year in Q1.

The launch of the Live TV Channel Guide will make accessing the expanded lineup channels easier, via a new “Live TV” tile on The Roku Channel. In addition, users can press left on their remote at any time to bring up the guide.

“Now more than ever it’s important for our users to have easy access to free content, such as news, and the ability to find it quickly,” said Ashley Hovey, Roku’s Director of AVOD Growth, in a statement. “We’re excited to enhance the streaming experience through a Live Channel TV Guide and bring more free content from The Roku Channel to the forefront.”

 

The Roku Channel expands to include over 100 live channels, adds a Live TV guide

Roku is expanding its free live, linear channel lineup that’s part of its free movies and TV hub, The Roku Channel. In the U.S., Roku customers will now be able to stream from over 100 live channels, including those offering free access to news, sports, movies, TV, kids and family programming, lifestyle content, and Spanish-language programming. Along with the expansion, Roku is also launching a new Live TV guide to make it easier to browse through its free content.

The update would seem to position Roku as a more of a direct challenger to rival free video streaming services, including Pluto TV and XUMO. The former was acquired by Viacom (now ViacomCBS) in 2019 for $340 million while XUMO was bought by Comcast earlier this year for over $100 million.

But instead, Roku is working in partnership with those companies — its free live channels include content that’s powered by XUMO as well as Pluto TV.

Also among the new additions are a video news channel from Reuters and A&E’s streaming networks Lively Place and Crime360.

Roku has been rapidly expanding The Roku Channel hub since its launch in September 2017. While it initially focused on offering of a selection of free, ad-supported movies — similar to Vudu’s “Movies on Us” or TUBI, for example — it has grown to include a range of free content, including TV, news, sports and even live channels, as well as add-on premium subscriptions.

Today, the hub offers over 100,000 titles, including free movies and TV reaching Roku’s estimated 36 million users.

The hub makes Roku a top choice for cord-cutters, as it centralizes access to free streaming content. The ad-supported content, meanwhile, contributes to Roku’s bottom line. The company today generates more money from its platform business than its device sales. Even amid the pandemic which saw advertisers pulling back, Roku booked $232.56 million in platform revenue in Q1, which includes ads and licensing fees, versus just $88.21 million in device sales.

Roku says the hub continues to grow substantially faster than its overall platform, with a greater than 100% increase in streaming hours year-over-year in Q1.

The launch of the Live TV Channel Guide will make accessing the expanded lineup channels easier, via a new “Live TV” tile on The Roku Channel. In addition, users can press left on their remote at any time to bring up the guide.

“Now more than ever it’s important for our users to have easy access to free content, such as news, and the ability to find it quickly,” said Ashley Hovey, Roku’s Director of AVOD Growth, in a statement. “We’re excited to enhance the streaming experience through a Live Channel TV Guide and bring more free content from The Roku Channel to the forefront.”

 

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.

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