The year is 2010. Fox Soccer Channel still doesn’t have a podcast, which would have been a perfect medium to tell people about going to HD, and to answer questions about Fox Soccer Plus. And neither Fox Soccer Channel nor the Premier League have an official iPhone app, although in case of the Premier League, maybe it has more important things to worry about right now such as the first EPL club going into administration.
So, is it too much to ask that either Fox Soccer Channel or the Premier League will launch anytime soon on Roku? Based on the above information, I believe the answer is, sadly, yes.
Let me explain.
Roku is a set top box that sits on top of your television set and plays streaming video on your television set. So far, Roku has sold more than 500,000 units (a Roku box starts at $99) and it has quickly risen to become one of the must-have gadgets for tech-savvy consumers in the United States. Backed by deals with Netflix, Amazon Video, Major League Baseball, Pandora and many other content providers, Roku stands on the precipice becoming absolutely huge in 2010.
But where is the soccer content? Where is Fox, the Premier League or other soccer content providers on Roku?
The answer is they’re nowhere to be seen. One, we’re not sure if they’re even aware of Roku. And two, even if they are aware of Roku, they may see it as “the enemy” instead of a new distribution channel.
In the case of Major League Baseball, who has embraced Roku, the channel offers an incredible amount of live baseball coverage in HD which far exceeds the experience you could find on television (and even satellite). Read more about how Major League Baseball is on the cutting edge of broadband elsewhere on EPL Talk.
We all know that the Premier League is an albatross when it comes to adopting technology especially online. That’s partly because the league has a stubborn grip on its cash cow, television, which its TV rights worldwide is expected to cross the 1 billion pounds mark shortly. Even outside of online rights for its matches, the Premier League continues to be behind the times. The league didn’t launch its own website until 2002. And it’s current website’s only saving grace is the Fantasy Premier League, which I’m sure the league has little to do with on a day-to-day basis.
So what would Roku offer the Premier League? It would give the league the opportunity to bring Premier League soccer into the living rooms of people worldwide, cutting out the middle man (i.e. TV providers) and delivering matches in HD with superior quality. As we have seen in the United States, some of us (myself included) have been waiting several years for our TV provider to make Setanta Sports available, which limited the amount of Premier League soccer we could see (thankfully, Setanta-i filled that gap for many of us). Even though Setanta US is closing its doors this Sunday, the problem still remains that many of us in this country will not be able to see all of the Premier League games that will be televised.
The same issue happens around the world. The Premier League would be better suited to launch a Premier League Broadband channel on Roku making it available to viewers around the world and offering every game in HD on a monthly or annual subscription rate.
The reality is that a Premier League Broadband channel on Roku would not kill Fox Soccer Channel or other TV providers. Many soccer fans would still subscribe to DirecTV or their local cable provider to get the full array of content available including Fox Soccer Channel (or their local 24/7 soccer network, depending what part of the world they lived in).
The Premier League would argue that Roku would cannibalize TV rights money, but I disagree. If you provided quality HD content that was available via broadband thanks to a Roku box, I believe this would reduce the amount of pirated Internet streams of Premier League games. Why? Who wants to watch choppy games on the Internet in different languages when you can watch any game you want on your television set with the best quality picture at a reasonable price?
Just as Fox Soccer Channel delivers Premier League games online via its FoxSoccer.tv service, it could do the same thing – but better – with Roku. A Fox Soccer Channel could be preconfigured on Roku to only show games to people who have paid the FoxSoccer.tv subscription rate. And for those Roku customers who haven’t signed up to FoxSoccer.tv, they could watch a promo reel which would describe the benefits of watching games on Roku in the comfort of your living room.
The shame of all this is that it feels futile. I honestly don’t believe that the Premier League nor Fox Soccer Channel will adopt Roku any time in the near future. Technology is just not in their DNA. And both companies seem to move so frustratingly slow when it comes to adopting new techology.
So if the Premier League and Fox Soccer Channel don’t plan on it doing, it makes me wonder whether EPL Talk should launch on Roku instead. Seriously. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to provide streaming matches, but I could provide the daily audio podcast as well as video content such as interviews, documentaries, as well as plenty of other video content that EPL Talk has created in the past, and more video content in the future.
The Roku content from EPL Talk would supplement what you already read online, on Twitter and listen via iTunes. Some of it would be the same, but the video content would be created in HD and available through Roku. At the same time, the Roku box would have all of the other content and features such as being able to stream Netflix movies to your TV set (or via Amazon Video, if you prefer) as well as Major League Baseball games and much more.
So what do you think? Would you buy a Roku box if EPL Talk was available on it (in addition to the other channels that already exist such as Netflix, Amazon Video, MLB, Pandora, Facebook, Flickr and others)? And, if so, what video content would you be interested in watching? If you’re on the fence, learn more about Roku, then come back and post your feedback in the comments section below.
I value what you, as a vital part of the EPL Talk community thinks, so thanks in advance for sharing your opinions below.