Roku gets into Baseball
When the little black box from Roku came out a few years ago, we were excited. We finally had an easy non-HTPC way of getting Netflix into our home theaters. But then we despaired as the service became available on XBox Live, Blu-ray players, and even integrated into TVs. We thought that might be the end from the little black box that so captured our attention.
But they haven't gone down without a fight.
Roku announced a while back support for Amazon On Demand for those that are interested in getting newer movies and don't mind paying a rental change. Now, they've announced a new partnership - with MLB.com. MLB.com has offered a streaming service for the baseball fanatic called the MLB.TV Premium subscription. This allows you to watch games that are out of market or just not being shown in your area. With the Roku partnership, you can watch live games delayed approximately 90 mintues from their air time. For a fan that is living out of area or just someone that can't get enough baseball, that's a short wait.
Now, the MLB.com subscription is not free - it's $35 a year. From Roku's standpoint, this partnership is a good thing as it gives consumers yet another reason to want to buy their box. It seems to us, however, that MLB.com will be the real beneficiaries. While in the long run, $35 isn't very much, being tied to your laptop or suck in your office to watch a game instead of sitting in your recliner, in front of your flatscreen, drinking a cold one isn't very attractive.
The Roku/MLB.com deal surely will draw a lot more fans to the box and the service. It also moves Roku in the direction of being a contender against all those sports packages. Comcast's MLB package costs $139 a year while it is $159 from DirectTV. What they've had over MLB.com is the fact that it easily came to your home theater. With the Roku/MLB.com package, enthusiasts could actually buy a new box AND the MLB.com service for less than the cost of the services from Comcast or DirectTV.
Our question is whether or not this portents more sports deals for Roku. Will we see NFL, NHL, MLS deals in the future? If so, look for a lot of users to switch. We know that NFL.com is starting to stream games. A NFL service would be a serious coup for Roku. According to the MLB.com website, the games when available can be viewed in HD. Since the Roku box is capable of HD, it seems natural that it'd be available at that resolution. If so, the cable/satellite providers will have nothing on Roku but a higher price. And it won't take consumers long to figure that out.
That next level, as I see it, is where the direct-content model is ad-supported and the cable/satellite companies are thwarted from throttling us for $100+ /month in cable bills...
Why would I not just watch the game (with a <2 minute delay) on ANY computer/laptop like I do already?
What this amounts to is a NON LIVE , ARCHIVED GAME ONLY mlb.tv subscription.
Also, how DIFFICULT is it to connect a laptop to a TV? Seriously. If you can't do that, then forgot about hooking up the Roku to the TV.
I suppose the service is cheaper ($35 a season vs the $100 a season I pay now) but then I can currently watch LIVE games AND archived ones.
Now if I buy the Roku box and I can get MLB premium LIVE subscriptions for $35 thereafter on the PC, then its pretty SLICK!
But then, I doubt that's the case.
So, do the math, $35 for watching OLD, ARCHIVED games, or $100 for watching live GOOD_QUALITY games on the computer, or $160 for watching live HIGH-DEF over satellite. Sorry, but ended games aren't even worth a dime to me.