As you probably already know, late last night, Roku released the new channel store. I got my tipoff this am from @thepreppydude when I checked Twitter before email. After humping over the silly check for update bug (No, REALLY roku.. check again..) I had a channel store and the potential for 10 new channels on my Roku box.
It was 6:30am when I pronounced to my family that Broadcast Media is officially spun on it's head and we began pondering how the war would shape up. More on that later, first- here is a Rogue's take on the new channels and the navigation software...
The Channels are broken into 3 main categories- Social Media, Podcast/Media Distribution, and Personal Content viewing/sharing.
The new channel line up includes Facebook Photos ( which allows you to see your friends' photo streams) and MobileTribe. For us, Social Media apps on the family TV make no sense at all. You have to associate the channels with an account. We have 4 different account holders in our household... none of us want our accounts up there and viewable by the household. With Laptops, netbooks, cell phones and an iPod Touch in the household, we are all already 24X7 connected to our chosen social media, this is just noise on the TV. I did NOT add these channels.
Personal Content Viewing/Sharing:
The sharing feature of this may be the nudge that pushes me into buying Roku boxes for family members for Christmas. The Flickr Channel is nice, but I want to be able to see my contacts' photostream as well. If I do this, I could upload photos and my parents half a country away could view them on their TV instead of their computer. Yes, I can make a private group and add them to it, etc.. but that is just complicated. The selling point of the Roku is it's simplicity. There is also frameChannel, which allows me to do photo sharing. I hate to move photos to yet another service, but if we can not get Flickr right, we might consider it. the sharing application that really sold me was MotionBox. With a free account I can share video with my contacts. This means I can shoot video, upload it and the grandparents (and great grands maybe) can see it on their TV, even though they are far away. I am SO all over this. An unlimited account is 40$/yr. I wonder how good their infrastructure is on the backend.. seems like it is about to become VERY easy for someone to film and produce a TV show and distribute it. Who needs YouTube?
The other channels are not just single channels, but collections of hundreds or thousands of feeds. These channels include Twit.tv, Blip.tv, Mediafly, Revision3 and Pandora. the amount of content that will contend for my attention on my living room TV just increased about 400%. This is the reason that Broadcast media just got spun on it's head. Makes me wonder how all of those podcast hosts feel about being elevated to TV star over night.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:
Once content explodes, navigation and search becomes the barrier to enjoyment. This is the only place where the Roku channel interface falls down. With just 2 or 3 channels the old coverflow style was functional. As the channel number goes up, this becomes unwieldy. I still hope for a Boxee/Roku mating. I love the Boxee interface for navigating many channels and creating favorites. Even better, I dream of functionality that my old lover Joost had.. the ability to take content from many channels and providers and create my own custom channel with only the content I love on it.
What content do you most love that you want to see on your TV? Which service providers will you prod to create a Roku interface? the possibilities are endless... as my youngest daughter quipped, "Now we really can get the Puppy Channel... puppies, puppies, puppies......"