It has the chance of creating a transformative television viewing experience.
Though I am not quite ready to turn off the satellite television service and leverage the Roku exclusively, I can see the day where my viewing habits are changed in a manner similar to what the Tivo caused me to do.
As a Tivo owner since it first came out I now watch more television from the local hard drive than live. No longer do I need to set the alarm on my wrist watch or queue up a video tape in a recorder so that I catch a show that I was interested in watching.
The Roku (and Boxee, etc) basically shift the "hard drive" into the cloud. There is a variety of content options:
- Free Internet Videos - YouTube
- Free Video Podcasts - Revision3, Twit, CNET, etc
- Free News - France24, Al Jezeera, Russian Television
- Subscription Based Movie Services - NetFlix, Amazon
- Subscription Based Television - Hulu
- Streaming Internet Radio Services
If the game is about capturing the attention of the viewer and then getting them to pay - then this form of television viewing has the advantage over the last generation of scheduled television. Tivo was an intermediate step - it grabbed scheduled television and stored it for dynamic access. With Internet video you can consume episodes of an entire season at you own pace. One better than the DVR.
From a geographic broadcast perspective - gone is the limitation of terrestrial broadcast, the complexity of FTA satellite and the confinement of the cable package line up. In theory the Internet will provide for a global video network as more content is distributed via IPTV.
The major change is the pricing model. We are going to a "pay for what you eat" model. Yes there is more content available from the present network broadcasters. As the advertising model of broadcast television is destroyed AND the cable systems are disintermediated - having the consumer pay directly is the likely model going forward.
I purchased a DVD from Amazon the other day. For this they gave me a $5 credit to watch a free movie in their Internet streaming service. This shows me that we will move to an "Electronic Wallet" scenario. You do something that the content owner wants you to do - you get a service credit in your wallet. From there you get to watch their content.
I can image that retailers who used to purchase million dollar commercials on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX will begin to offer "gift codes" that can be entered into a streaming content service, thus paying for your viewing. The broadcaster will provide an invoice to the advertiser for the codes that were redeemed on their service.
NOTHING IS FREE. It is all merely a changed business model, giving everyone what they want.