While a number of products popular with cord cutters have emerged over the past five years none of them are truly a cord cutting solution. There are barriers to entry from price, comfort level and compatibility that prevent users from purchasing one device on its own and stopping. There are multiple programs and types of hardware needed in order to give users a fully functional experience. This story is a part of a new series that will look at how existing companies can address the cord-cutting crowd more directly. The first company we will look at is Roku. Continue to see our Roku Cord Cutting Box Concept.
Roku’s boxes have long been popular with cord cutters. They provide so many apps that people utilize to watch TV like Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix and even sports and news apps. Along with that the Roku boxes and branded TV’s also support numerous apps that provide services from cable companies called TV everywhere channels, channels from cloud-based services, mirroring, Digital signage and more. If Roku was to approach the market with cord-cutting specifically in mind it would do well to concentrate on the priorities of a cord cutter, getting their shows and important information as easily as possible. Here is what Roku could do to fully define itself in the cord cutting world going forward. Do keep in mind though this is just an idea of how it could work. Roku has not announced such a product nor do I have any knowledge that one is coming.
Roku should introduce a model that includes a coax antenna port. The company partners with a number of TV manufacturers which offer basically an antenna channel within the Roku ecosystem. This allows users to jump into OTA signals. Working that same sort of set up in would be a great start. But it would need more.
Provide Cord Cutter Friendly Search Results
The new Apple TV has a beautiful interface and Amazon’s Fire TV recently rolled out a major interface revamp. Roku could do a lot to define a new cord-cutting product with an interface built more specifically for it. This could be done in a number of ways like for instance dropping certain options from the search feature. No more HBO Go, Showtime etc or anything that requires a cable subscription unless it is also available via an IP TV delivery service like Sling TV or DirecTV Now.
How could it be reimagined?
A true cord cutting device interface would have to be different than its current set up, which looks in some ways like a store full of streaming products. It works great for the more open product but it could be better streamlined for a cord cutting audience. At the moment the interface is split in two.
Live TV service (cable substitute) streaming category
The current Roku has an entire channel store with dozens of categories. This serves it well but if you are targeting cord cutters you should zero in on their needs. So one category should be just for the emerging market of live tv streaming services. There is a major difference between something like
Netflix and Sling TV and its time it is recognized. So a category just for the new products is the way to go. At this point, there are not a lot of them but there are enough to get started. There is Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now. Soon we will see a Hulu offering and others from other major providers. Time warner has begun to offer Roku based service in New York. Verizon appears on the way with one and Google has been rumored to be working on something. A category like this would be of great help to customers.
Live news Category
There is a News & Weather category at the moment but at the time of this writing, there are 302 channels listed. There are numerous options from free live streaming services like CBSN to on-demand streaming from various local news networks and even super niche content from whoever
has submitted content over time. Again great for the basic box but the difference between CBSN and “King County” which concerns local issues in King County in Washington State are as vast as the difference between an iPad and a legal pad. Cord cutters want substitutes for things like CNN and Fox News and too many choices honestly can be stifling. The category would not have hundreds of options but a group of curated professionally produced choices would be fantastic.
Users need to be able to get right to their free over the air channels. A category where users can jump into their content with the click of a button would encourage users to explore the world of broadcast TV. Roku does not have a TV EPG guide in place but working with one of its many partners it could likely set something very usable up.
What are premium streaming options? This is where you would find the big guns. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Showtime etc. There will be more as things grow. But by putting
all of the pay streaming options in one place and setting the expectation that people must pay for them should expect a certain level of performance it will be very clear to consumers what to expect.
Users should be able to quickly find things like NBA League Pass, NFL Sunday Ticket and MLB TV without surfing through numerous other options. When people say they love sports they are probably not talking about watching table tennis tournaments from some small town in Alabama. They mean college football, the NFL NCAA Basketball and so on.
Roku is wonderful because of the way that it allows so many niche creators to put their content out for distribution and this should not be lost in a new product. So once people have chosen to put together a package based on the big tent pole subjects like News, sports, live streaming and
premium content there should then be the option to add in the rest of the picture. Do you want more cooking options? How about the numerous exercise channels? Users should be guided through these options for set up so that they learn how the device itself works. The company already does this to a point on its website when users set up a new account. But by taking users through a tour of the other categories it encourages users learn more about the many options from creators all over the world. This would be great for Roku and its partners when it comes to advertising and cross- marketing.
The overall set up would maximize the results for those who are making major investments in content and delivery while giving the little guys a chance to get a seat at the table.
Roku does not make DVR’s but it works well with partners who do. Tablo, which is currently categorized in the listing for “apps” launched on Roku’s platform years before it was found on others
and offer users the ability to watch live TV and record it for later if users have a hard drive as well as a Tablo DVR unit. At the moment the Tablo channel is listed along side of things like Virtual Forrest, a screen saver and numerous on-screen advertising apps and mirroring apps. This is probably because there are not a lot of DVR options for OTA TV or apps that work with Roku. But none the less it is likely miss categorized. Another DVR option for Roku Plex. Plex itself is not a DVR but it can be used in conjunction with an HD Home Run. Plex though is listed under personal media. There are other companies like who make DVRs who do not have Roku channels yet. Tivo