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With updated hardware and new distribution deals, Roku captures $8m in New Equity August 22, 2011

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Social Media.
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Streaming video provider Roku has raised $8 million in a new round of funding, no doubt given wings by the recent news that it would overhaul its three set-top boxes for online video streaming to the TV, while bringing Angry Birds to the living room.

Investors can see the competitive advantage in the Roku 2 boxes, which retain the same pricing as the earlier generation, but they’re palm-sized, and they all have 802.11n, Bluetooth 3.0, microSD slots and an HDMI output. The HD ($59.99) has a 720p HD resolution; the XD ($79.99) has full 1080p; and the XS ($99.99) has 1080p, but adds an Ethernet port, USB port for sideloading content and the piece du resistance, a free copy of Angry Birds. A new $30 motion sensor-based enhanced remote is available for a “casual gaming” experience. While Angry Birds is the first title to be included, more games are coming, Roku said.

Roku allows users to grab content from the Web and stream it to their televisions; they can choose from a variety of channels, like Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu Plus, Crackle, YouTube, MLB and news. The refresh caps off a few months of positive development for the company, including a big distribution deal with Best Buy and the news that DirecTV’s premium Sunday Ticket NFL package, AOL HD and WealthTV would all be added to the Roku lineup.

Subscriptions are also available for NBA, NHL and UFC sports. It also offers music and social networking from Last.fm, Sirius XM, Facebook, Picasa and Pandora, among others. Users browse and use an included remote to click and add the channels they wish to use. Both rental and purchases are enabled; and between Netflix and Amazon VOD the library of available rental titles is prodigious.

I can personally attest to the quality of Roku’s streaming service, owning two vintage models and one new XS myself. I started out very skeptical with one box, figuring a $60 investment to test new technology and services was well worth the investment. After only a few weeks I was hooked. The addition of programming subscriptions such as NFL Sunday ticket are a major plus. If they ever get ABC/NBC/CBS & Fox I would leave my current provider for this high quality streaming internet based service.

Joe Buck, NCE

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