By Dawn C. Chmielewski
6:00 AM PDT, September 25, 2013
As Internet video streaming becomes more commonplace in American households, a maker of dedicated devices introduced a new lineup of products and expanded programming options in hopes of capitalizing on this trend.
Roku unveiled three new streaming players, priced at $50 to $80, that it says will offer high-definition video, among other features. These devices, with names only a geek could love (the Roku LT, Roku 1 and Roku 2), reach stores in October.
Roku also is adding the M-Go movie and television service to its entertainment offerings.
M-Go, a joint venture of DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor, offers thousands of films and shows to rent or purchase. The digital entertainment service, launched about eight months ago, competes with more established players, including Amazon Prime Instant Video and Wal-Mart's Vudu streaming service.
Chief Executive John Batter said M-Go worked with Roku to create a hassle-free experience for users, who only have to enter their billing information once when they set up the device.
"The idea here was to partner to deliver the easiest path for consumers to start watching movies and TV shows," said Batter.
M-Go also is available through Internet-connected "smart" TVs and Blu-ray players from Samsung, Vizio and LG and on devices powered by Google's Android software. It also can be viewed through a Web browser on PCs and Apple computers.
The market for streaming devices and services continues to grow.
About 40% of American homes with high-speed Internet access now subscribe to an Internet video service, according to researcher Parks Associates. Smart TVs, video game consoles, Blu-ray players and streaming media devices all are vying to capture this market.
The number of homes using dedicated streaming media devices, like the Roku or Apple TV, has doubled since 2011, according to Parks Associates. But only 14% of homes with high-speed Internet connections use such set-top boxes.
Roku Chief Executive Anthony Wood said his devices offer a low-cost way for consumers to bring Internet video to their home televisions -- without needing to purchase an Internet-connected TV set. He predicts this category of gadgets will gain in popularity, as streaming video expands into the mainstream, beyond households with game consoles or high-end Blu-ray players.
Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times