Why the Netflix Roku Will Fail

Netflix and Roku today announced the $100 Netflix Roku. What’s a Netflix Roku? It’s a $100 box that will let you watch Netflix “Watch Now” movies on demand with yet another new box to clutter up your living room. CNET has a review here. They say they’ve had a box and have been testing it for two weeks. Interestingly, it looks like Mike K, who runs the top Netflix blog on the internet Hacking Netflix, hasn’t had one for the past two weeks. Interesting how everyone is always saying that “Netflix gets blogging.”

So why is this a bad move? Easy. Because nobody will buy the box. Well not nobody. They’ll sell a couple of them I suppose, but this thing will never really get off the ground in a big way. We’ve seen this movie before, it was called Akimbo. Remember the Akimbo box that was going to revolutionize how we watched TV? So why will the Netflix Roku box fail? Simple.

1. People don’t want more boxes in their living room they want less. A satellite receiver or cable box, an XBox 360, a home theater sound system, a TiVo, an AppleTV, a DVD player, etc. etc. The last thing people want is one more ugly box cluttering up their living room.

2. The content on the box is not very compelling. Do I want Netflix “Watch Now” in my living room? Sure. Would I pay $100 to buy a box that streams me old episodes of Columbo or Xena Warrior Princess Season 1? No.

Can I get Juno on the Roku? No. Can I get Michael Clayton, or There Will Be Blood or American Gangster on the Roku? Nope.

Now some people will say that the hot new releases will be on this box, that it’s only a matter of time, etc. etc. but I think until we see that, the box is premature.

The funny thing is that there is already a better way to get Netflix “Watch Now” into your living room without having to pay $100 to buy yet another box. It’s called the XBox 360. You can already (theoretically) stream Netflix’s “Watch Now” service directly to your XBox 360 with your Media Center PC (that is up in your attic or over in your home office by the way and connected via your home network — not in your living room). I’ve been trying to get this to work a few weeks myself now but I’ve been hampered by the dreaded Netflix/Microsoft “good for the consumer” DRM issues.

So why is Netflix screwing around with Roku, when they could be working on and developing a better solution with the XBox 360? My guess is that it’s simply shortsightedness. Roku is probably offering them something like $20 per box and Microsoft likely won’t pay them anything. The problem is that $20 per box doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you don’t sell any boxes.

The better solution is to better improve the XBox 360 version of “Watch Now” and then let Microsoft’s marketing department push this new “one more reason why people ought to buy an XBox 360” (that also is a DVD player, a game player, your extender which gets all of your TV, photos and music to your living room, oh yeah and now plays Netflix content — think less boxes not more)

Of course if Netflix pushes this idea then nobody will buy the $100 (and their $20 cut) Roku box.

Of course another way to spin this story is simply that the Roku is the best thing since sliced bread and is the “$100 Apple TV Killer” like they did over at CNET’s News “Blog” which got to break yet another story. Good thing Netflix gets blogging!

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  1. Dave Zatz says:

    Netflix is licensing their streaming tech to a variety of partners. Roku is just the first and possibly the only to offer a *dedicated* box. I assure you that Vista Media Center will be getting an official Netflix plugin at some point, though the unofficial ones are looking good. Not to mention Netflix just hired one of those developers.

    Regarding Roku, the founder/CEO founded ReplayTV and was hired to run Netflix’s Internet TV business. Then he left and went back to Roku. So that explains that relationship. One one report says several Netflix employees landed at Roku along with a 6 million dollar investment.

  2. Josh says:

    I’m not so sure this STB is a one trick pony. Are you sure Netflix is getting money for each box? I’m not. Do you see any Netflix branding on the box? I don’t. I wonder if this STB will be able to go to YouTube, Hulu, etc. eventually. If that happens, this was a brilliant marketing strategy on their part. Look at all the noise this announcement is making.

    I think one of the main drawbacks of the box is that you have to add movies to it by a PC or other device. The box can only play movies in your queue.

  3. I agree that the Xbox is the better way to go. Even with the unofficial support, you can just do so much more with it. What the Xbox lacks though is Netflix support for anybody who doesn’t own the media center program. Since most of the computers out there are running XP, this gives consumers one more option to get Netflix without having to upgrade their computer to a more expensive set up. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it will appeal to a lot of baby boomers who like the idea of being able to use Netflix on their TV, but who haven’t spent the time to figure out how to connect their television to their home networks. It’s fair to compare this to Akimbo, but there are also a lot of differences $100 is a much more reasonable price target and Netflix already has an established customer base. You’ll also notice that the Roku box doesn’t have a hard drive which added a lot to the Akimbo expense. This should allow Roku to actually make a profit on the box instead of having to rely on VC cash to stay afloat. My only complaint is that Roku didn’t make the box more robust. It would have been cool if they also incorporated Music streaming, photo slide shows and DivX support. I don’t know whether they can add any of this later on, but it would give them a huge advantage over similar media bridge products on the market.

  4. Lance says:

    As long as they continue to Stream TV shows, I am happy. I have only 2 boxes. AN Xbox and comcast box. One more little one will not be a problem. That being said, I do think I will wait alittle while to see what else will be released.

  5. Eric says:

    And for those of us who neither have, nor want an XBox 360? (I love my Wii, thanks).

    I think the Roku is probably a good deal for people who want something that’ll just work with Netflix’s streaming service, who see the Xbox 360 for what it is, a game console.

    Here’s the real reason it’ll fail, the same reason the 360 won’t go anywhere – it’s yet another closed device that ties into a closed ecosystem that’s useless for any other purpose. Yawn.

    Everyone wants to be the next iTunes/iPod – and seems to miss the point that the latter was only successful because it did fit in with the broader ecosystem of digital music; including pirated tracks and ripped CDs.

    When someone actually makes a user friendly, general purpose digital media player – that can accept files (or streams) from any number of sources due to its open nature, that will be a success. Till then, they’re just pissing away money on devices that’ll never find broad acceptance in the market.

  6. Thomas Hawk says:

    And for those of us who neither have, nor want an XBox 360? (I love my Wii, thanks).

    Then Eric, it should work on your Wii. My point is that rather then partnering to make yet another stand alone box with yet another remote control, Netflix should be working to get “Watch Now” on existing devices that consumers are already using. XBox 360, Wii, TiVo, AppleTV, your cable or satellite box (although they will fight something like this tooth and nail because it takes money from them by offering competing content).

    Dave Zatz is right. Look for “Watch Now” on other platforms in the future. Then no one will want to pay $100 for a standalone box when they can get it on their existing box without paying $100.

  7. Sean says:

    I’ve got Vista Media Center and Watch Now functionality set up on my 360. Yeah, it works. But it’s still somewhat hokey (And that is NOT a criticism of the program or developer) and obviously unsupported by Netflix. When official support for the 360 shows up, I’m totally there. But in the meantime, I’m fine with dropping $100 on a device that gets me the content in a supported fashion and shows Netflix in the best way possible (my wallet) that I support where they’re heading, even if I only use it for 6 months or a year.

    The “only older content” argument is somewhat specious, and specific to your tastes. I’m fine with getting older content on the box, and new content in the mail. The services complement each other quite nicely.

    The other factor is ease of use. Sure, you have to set up your queue on a PC in advance, but from what I’ve seen of the box, actually getting a movie up and running from a powered-down state is a lot easier than on the 360. That’s worth something as well.

    We’ll see if my opinion changes when mine shows up. (So there you go Thomas, you know at least one person has bought one! 🙂 )

  8. Ian Dixon says:

    Netflix did just hire Anthony Parks the developer of one of the Media Center Netflix apps
    more info

  9. CLH Hoodies says:

    I would think that for a $100 they would/could make it work, but if they dont execute it correctly they are bound to fail.

  10. CLH Hoodies says:

    Common Netflix dont fail now.

  11. TranceMist says:

    I don’t have NetFlix (anymore), but the idea of paying anything for a piece of hardware to access a service is distasteful.

    I occasionally use Amazon’s Unbox because it just showed up on my TiVo for no incremental cost.

    Though most of the time I download stuff from the ‘net, transcode it using VisualHub and place it in the TiVo Desktop’s shared video folder so I can watch it from the TiVo.

    Your XBox 360 scenario is the same. You should be able to get it at no incremental cost.

    Marketing people really need to wake up to the “open” concept and start “enabling” rather than “building” anew.

  12. Sean says:

    Well, I lose. Because my shipping address didn’t match my billing address, the order was declined and they’re already sold out so I can’t get one anytime soon. Since I can’t get it this week, I don’t see any point in ordering one anymore. At least I have the media center/360 plugin working…

  13. Scott Berry says:

    Nicely said. Until there’s a box that lets me view my choice of internet sites, plus everything on my PC, I ain’t buying.

    I’ve written recently that nobody wants a one-channel TV.

    When will these guys understand that “exclusive content” makes their boxes more and more sticky with a smaller and smaller slice of the market?

  14. fuzzydice says:

    I’ve read a few reviews, and I’m trying to figure out if what you guys are saying is that Netflix and Roku are misleading us..

    Netflix has said they have multiple partners they are working with to get Watch It now supported. This includes LG building it into TVs and Bluray players. They said there are others. Don’t we believe them?

    As far as the box being closed, I haven’t read anything that says the box can’t support other services. Roku has said there aren’t any licensing restrictions that prevent them from supporting other services. So, the hardware seems to be flexible, if you believe them.

    What I’m trying to figure out is of the 8+ million netflix users, how many of them have a stack of boxes already. I’m assuming some of them don’t have any premium services and get their movie fix by renting, that some actually have their DVRs built into their Satellite or Cable box.

    Setting up your PC to serve content is all well and good, but you have to understand, that’s not most people. Most users aren’t ripping DVDs to media servers. It’s more the exception than the norm.

    And, the content isn’t so bad. I can watch Weeds, Heroes (both seasons), Friday Night Lights, etc. They have more current shows, and yes, older movies. But, it seems to me, there’s always older content coming out on DVDs for customers to buy.

  15. Ron Michael says:

    I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I think this will be big.

    I think assuming the XBox route is better is a bit parochial. Lots of people don’t have or want an Xbox. I don’t. (I have a Wii) I wouldn’t buy an Xbox just to play video, especially if I also need to set up Windows Media Center. That is not easy or fun – and I work with computers 24×7. I don’t really want to dedicate a computer to this task. A cheap single dedicated box that does the trick is what I want.

    Having “another box” is not a big deal for the kind of people who’d want this. Multi function remotes and powerful receivers let you plug in and control lots of devices without thinking about it. You won’t even have to SEE this device, or many others – an infrared repeater would let you put it far out of the way.

    But someday I am sure we’re going to see netflix (and competitor’s) players integrated directly into stereo receivers or TVs. But

    If the failure of anything should be discussed, I think it should be Apple TV. This is going to blow away the Apple TV as an on-demand video player. The iTunes store video library is just too small and too expensive. Apple would need to come out with a competive subscription price like Netflix, and expand their library dramatically.

    Another failure – or maybe a better description would be a shift – will be the replacement of DVDs with online delivery. Eventually Netflix will be able to have their entire library online. And on that day I can throw away my DVD player, ask them to stop mailing me whats in my queue, and watch everything on demand.

    Anyway, just a few of my thoughts.

  16. fredfass says:

    I think it’s great idea, so I just ordered my Netflix player. Within a year it’ll have HD content and a huge catalog to choose from. As a current Netflix customer there’s no additional service fee to use the player box. The Player is simple to set up and use, so I think tens of thousands of these will be in use within a few months, IMO.

  17. Rich says:

    Can I get Juno on the Roku? No. Can I get Michael Clayton, or There Will Be Blood or American Gangster on the Roku? Nope.

    It will be a long time before new release content comes to a Netflix VOD service. The studios do not want to cannibalize their current VOD services. They want you to pay to rent new release content. The best you can hope for is a box that will support Netflix and other services. I think that box is coming.

  18. Jeff says:

    Yeah, I guess you are right that they will only sell a couple of Roku Boxes. Since they have already sold out of their first shipment, Roku must have just brought in 1 carton with 2 Roku boxes in it…

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, the tone of the argument is so arrogant. The Roku box is an excellent alternative for those of us who don’t have an xbox and are more interested in “long tail” content than new releases. The price is right for those of us who simply want to add value to our Netflix subscription. It’s not a stand-alone service, but an add-on.

    I predict this box will actually do well. To echo you: Why? Simple. Small, inexpensive, easy.

    I hear they already have a back-log of orders.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why is everyone assuming that all netflix subscribers who may want to watch something on their television have a XBox 360? It seems logical to me that a one time $100 purchase is a reasonable option for someone who wants the added luxury and does’nt own a $350 XBox

  21. Rachel says:

    I think you’re totally wrong. For one thing, from what I have been reading they are backlogged on orders. But that aside, I don’t think either of your arguments are very strong. 1. People don’t make decisions based on whether they’ve got too many boxes already. If it’s a good product, they’ll find the space. And it doesn’t make sense that your solution to this is what? Buy an XBOX? Isn’t that another box? It’s more expensive and not everyone plays video games. Might work, like you say, for those that already have a gaming system, but why wait who knows how long until all that is sorted out when you can bring a product to market now? Besides even if/when “watch it now” plays on gaming systems, there will always be a market for cheaper, smaller device. 2. The content actually isn’t that bad. Everyone I know has at least 30-40 movies/series on their watch now queues (I have 80) which is enough to last at many months, which by then more content will be added. Obviously online viewing won’t show new releases anytime soon, and people know and accept that. Besides, if the “limited” content hasn’t deterred people from viewing on their PCs, then what makes you think it will deter them from watching on their TVs? In any case, the biggest reason the Roku player will succeed is the price. $100 barely gets most people 2 full tanks of these days. There won’t be much hesitation there.

  22. Anonymous says:

    What the critics don’t get is that the Roku Netflix player is a device with a ready-made target audience – Neflix fans who have already identified the content they want to stream to their television. I have had a media extender for over a year – to stream music mostly – but I jumped at the Netflix player because I am a Netflix devotee. It won’t be an IPOD type explosion, but they will (have) sold quite a few to the Neflix base.

  23. JParker says:

    I’m caught in the backorder but my friend got one so I know they exist.
    I agree with the long tail argument. If this means Netflix can host a copy of some documentry instead of shipping it from across country because it isn’t popular enough for my local service center to have it I am all for it. I suspect more of their older titles 4+ years old will find themselves offered on watch instantly only. Why? because dvds are physical objects and over time all of them will be destroyed/lost/stolen. I’m sure most regular netflix users have discs that are in “Saved” purgatory. I see it as Netflix expanding the amount of time they rent my time by offering something to do while discs are in the mail. The more time I spend with them the less likely I am to cancel the service. Been down with netflix for 6 years but I’m probably one of their cash cows since I average less than 5 discs a month 🙂

  24. Scott Berry says:

    The problem with the “download only” argument is that movies in download form are separate objects, legally, from the same movie on DVD. They require renegotiation of all royalties and other rights with directors, producers, actors, etc.

    This is the reason why so much of the back catalog has NOT been made available to date, particularly given renewed interest by actors/directors in increasing the royalties they receive from online fare.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Prolly won’t fail affore I die. So, What’s the cheapest I can get this from Netflix? I mean the cheapest Netflix subscription? How about 1 video out at a time? My wifey will just love watching all the old stuff. Me. . .I’d rather sleep, I gotta get up and go to work most days.

  26. Anonymous says:

    For $100 and the $9/month plan, this thing eliminates any need for cable TV. I think it’s fantastic!

  27. michael says:

    I refuse to pay $100/month for cable tv and just use NetFlix now, and for the past four years. Also, I hate watching ads. Since I already pay for NetFlix, I see this as getting instant movies for free. This was an easy decision.

    So I ordered it and have been using the Roku for three days. I like it! The service is quite convenient. My internet connection is 3 Mbps, so the video quality is excellent. So far no complaints.

    The instant watch movie selection is not huge, but there are plenty of choices on my viewing wish list.

  28. Anonymous says:

    The box is now backlogged 6-8 weeks. It hasn’t failed yet.


  29. Hal Meeks says:

    Your suggested alternative — an xbox 360 — illustrates how little technorati understand the living room. The Xbox 360 appeals to a narrow demographic with a lot of disposable income. Roku’s box appeals to my Dad.

    NetFlix wants to get out of the physical media distribution business. This represents their first attempt to put a device in their subscriber’s hands that does just that. By getting the device out there, NetFlix can begin to work on better “watch it now options” and fine-tune the formula. The box itself can be upgraded to have new features. Netflix can offer tiers of watch it now service (new releases, premium content) or online rentals (aka Amazon Unboxed).

    It’s going to be quite successful because it fulfills the desire that most cable subcribers have had for “a la carte” programming. It is the anti-Tivo — bypassing the dumb extra step of recording shows through this arcane technology called “broadcasting”. It represents an evolutionary step.

  30. Tashi says:

    I like that your playing devils advocate here and your taking the opposite road most are choosing. However,
    i don’t agree that no one will buy it as this guy right here will absolutely get one and yes i realize there’s no HD, no new releases, no video game system built it. the thing is the people that are going to buy this are movie lovers! the 8 million or so subscribers who already adhere to the netflix mantra. These are the people that will enjoy this small miracle of movie watching spender. i am actually getting rid of one of my satellite receivers and dedicating a television solely to the Roku!
    i hope you realalize that not only is the Roku an impulse buy for most people, but its tiny size and simple operation and even if only 1/4 of Netflix subscribers sign up that will still make it a hit!
    good luck in the future with your xbox sir. i myself have no use for video games and or a jet engine living living underneath my television.

  31. Anonymous says:

    How do you explain that the box is constantly back ordered? I believe your assumption is incorrect.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the comments that this will not fail. My 78-year-old father just bought one, and loves it. (They’re on the one-DVD-at-a-time plan with NetFlix). I’m very tempted myself–I’d rather watch Weeds on my 52″ big screen then my laptop…and farting around with getting my laptop to display on my big screen just isn’t worth it. At $100 and no extra fees, the box is small and fairly cheap…I think it will be successful.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Who cares if it doesn’t have the newest releases the day they come out? You have to have a Netflix plan anyway so use that to get the new ones. I hate having to use the 2 DVD plan to watch an entire TV series.. Takes too long. This fixes it.

  34. EN4U says:

    I own a 360 and still bought the box……. Basicaly an alternative to the vongo service I belong to now, which I will be canceling.

    As far as the plugin goes, sure it works, then it don’t….. So while you all fight with a buggy plugin, ill be watching movies without hassles.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t the PS3 have a web browser built in? Can’t you simply log into your NetFlix account and click on “Watch Now” through your PS3’s web browser?

  36. Anonymous says:

    People? I know economy is tight now, but $100 is a night out, seriously. not a fortune for a box that is ready to use in 5 minutes and gives you free unlimited entertainment. 10,000 movie + more coming, that should satisfy any family for a while.
    And for the writer who spend 2 weeks trying to get his Media center to work free, isn’t your time more better spent? I’d rather pay the $100 than waste even 1 hour of my time.
    And if you guys are really cheap buy an extra long set of rgb cables and run directly from PC video card to back of tv, simple!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Well I bought one. I love it so far. It is so easy to watch the streaming on my tv. The resolutions seems dvd quality however I am watching it on a 13in tv. By the way, they have now sold 100,000 of them so I guess that is a few?

  38. Anonymous says:

    6 months later, I guess this wasn’t too accurate huh? I just bought my second one…

  39. idyllist says:

    I just ordered the Roku, and as someone who comes from a household with an Xbox, I just wanted to point out that a 1-year subscription to Xbox Gold, which allows you to stream Netflix movies, is $50. That is about half the cost of this box, so assuming that you use it for 2 years only the cost is about the same.

    However, if you are bullish on the future of Netflix, and you believe that a few years down the road there will only be MORE content available to “Watch Instantly”, and that the internet will only get easier and faster to access, and maybe, just maybe the Roku will be able to connect to other services such as Hulu and Youtube, you will then be paying LESS money than if you kept buying subscriptions to Xbox Gold for as long as they care to charge you something for it.

  40. Form the Future says:

    Well, you can watch Juno on it now, and I’m thinking of getting one for my father who’s resisting cable and can’t afford/deal with a Media Center PC but good call on the XBox prediction! It’s definitely a “gateway device”.

  41. Dave says:

    Any “End of the world” predictions…those will most likely be as accurate as this one.

  42. Ron says:

    Agreed, not accurate at all. Just bought one on a referral from a co-worker. If I can sign up for Netflix and stop paying late fees, get my movies in the mail, and watch as many as I want on my Roku box, I can dump the paid cable channels and it’s a win for ease of use and economics. Even at $ 100 capital outlay, the return is less than four months. Took five minutes to setup wirelessly and the quality is better than my cable box. Once they start pushing TV channels over it, I can get rid of cable and get HD without having to install a lousy dish. Paying for a DSL regardless. It will only get better from here.

  43. Capt. Video says:

    I’ve been in the cable TV business for over 30 years…and I tell you this Roku box is a “cable killer”. I bought one and immediately bought one and sent it to my son. I’m am thinking of buying another for a different TV in my home.

    This is like VOD without the cost.

    The box connected via my wireless network, the picture quality is good and the selection of 12,000 movies and growing is good!

    I think you are wrong and Roku will sell millions of these boxes.

    With the new D-TV (more channels and perfect pix) and a Roku box with my Netflix subscription I could drop cable (I’m not a sports fan).

  44. ashtonisdrugfree says:

    too bad your eating your own foot on this one. Turns out that these little boxes are getting great reviews and selling like hot cakes. Roku is also talking about adding other online services like hulu,abc, etc. I won a box for free and ended up buying another one for my bedroom. I even have a media center pc in my living room. thanks to the tiny little roku box, the media pc gets little use.

  45. bud says:

    Hey Mr.Hawk, how does the crow taste?

  46. James says:

    Hey Nostradamus – You were wrong. 😀

  47. MovieFan says:

    The math alone makes it a good choice for movie fans. 1 year cable bill, $1040.00, 1 year Netflix $120.00. I’m going to cancel the cable service as soon as the Roku shows up. And yes, I am one of those people ‘who doesn’t own or want an Xbox’.

  48. alireep says:

    I bought my roku box a few months ago and now all my friends and family are jealous. I got rid of my $70 a month satillite tv and between the library, netflix and the internet we see all the tv and movies we want!!! Any one heard when roku will add more than amazon?? I would love, love, love to see hulu on there. I think the only downside is…umm wait there is none LOL

  49. Gomer says:

    Boy, you are a short-sighted fool. Guess you didn’t see the Xbox link coming. Hehe, I’m looking forward to getting rid of my stupid DVD’s so I can just stream media. Let someone else house all the data.



  50. Michael says:

    If predicting tech future was a Pass / Fail class you would get a “Fail” for this quiz! Since your gloomy post Roku has sold extremely well, expanded to include Video On Demand from Amazon, and offered above average product support. If they ever round it out with Hulu, look out!

    By the way… touting the 360 over the tiny Roku as a friendlier / better option? Seriously?

  51. shaggybrown says:

    You were amazingly prescient. I also enjoyed your posts where you explained why the iPhone would fail and how cable would never beat ISDN.

  52. HB says:

    FYI – – Not everyone has or is even interested in the XBox whatever.

  53. AngryFarmer says:

    You suck!! Roku is awesome!!

  54. CrazyGuy says:

    Roku IS one of the best technology product of 2008. it is awesome, now you can get HD too.

  55. bxb says:

    My Roku is the best $99 I have ever spent!

  56. JBSM says:

    Now you can link your ROKU to your MLB premium account and watch any baseball game including one from last month that you might have missed. AWESOME!!!! You missed this one dude! Can’t wait for your next prediction.

  57. Connie says:

    DUDE!!! You were SOOOOOO wrong about this ROKU box.. I gave up my cable TV altogether and we are perfectly happy with our ROKU and the free TV…. I pay the minimum Netflix monthly fee and get all the movies I could imagine plus plenty of viewing for my 9 year old that I can control what is in the box to play. This thing is fabulous and I know that I’ve personally been responsible for at least 10 more of them selling to people who have been to my house and who have seen how awesome it is!!!! In these times of penny pinching — this thing is a lifesaver!!!!

  58. Tom David says:

    You’re pretty much just a hater, aren’t you? I’ve been reading a few of your posts and you just don’t seem to be happy with anything.

    I love my Roku box. It’s tiny, it’s cheap, it does the job it claims to do, the firmware is expandable and my universal remote controls it just fine. If something better comes along in a year or two, I’ve already gotten my hundred-bucks worth. If the developers just continue to make it better and better, then I’ll be turning flips that it only cost me a hundred bucks.

    Get some sun. Eat a cupcake. Do something to cheer yourself up. Sheesh.

  59. Andrew K says:

    All aboard the FAIL TRAIN!

  60. Gob Bluth says:

    next prediction: this ‘computer’ fad will never catch on!

  61. Evan says:

    Maybe you were correct in early 2008 but a lot of these boxes are selling now and I love mine especially since it is not near my FIOS connection but the wifi allows for fast streaming. And with over 10,000 movies and growing on Netflix alone it is well worth the money. You should revise your comments to update the information. Although I don’t stream yet from Amazon or MLB games it does work with those providers as well.

  62. Somnath Purkayastha says:

    You were so wrong with your prediction…Who knows, you may own a roku now…or may be not…you may still own your old dvd player, tivo blah blah blah….

  63. Eric says:

    I have a Netflix account and use my Xbox 360 to view my instant watching selections at home, which is awesome cause I gave up cable like 6 years ago. The cool thing, one of many, about Netflix is that they allow you to authorize multiple machines to use your instant watching. My account, 3 DVDs at a time, allows up to 8 authorized machines and 4 of those can watch their own individual stream at the same time. The Roku, if it works well, seems like the cheapest way for my Dad to move his Netflix streaming from the MacBook to the TV. And if you are like my Dad, you hate most modern films and TV. He always finds stuff that he enjoys watching on Netflix and then calls me about it surprised by the fact that it’s free. As good as this set up probably is it would be even better if you could access sites like HULU and Fancast. As it is we don’t have the Roku. I’m looking for the simplest ways to mirror the Macbook screen to the TV. When trying to put together media solutions for your parents simplicity is key.

  64. NetflixLvr says:

    Wow…you were way wrong. I love the Roku player – and I plan on getting another one even though I have both an Internet enabled plasma TV and a Blueray Player that can play netflix (and a nettop hooked into the TV). Truth is, nothing streams my Netflix as well as the Roku player does and it’s easy for the hubby and the kids to run. So I’m hooked!

  65. KillerToad says:

    This should be retitled Thomas Hawk’s Epic Fail. I have been listening to Pandora all month through my entertainment center through Roku. HD movies, check. HD shows, check. Steaming music, check. Hope this guy doesn’t bet the ponies, he’d be living under a bridge by now.

  66. Kenneth Kasajian says:

    OMG –this is awesome #epicfail. bahahahah

  67. Jonathan says:

    …and 640K ought to be enough for anybody.

  68. Rick says:

    For me, the ROKU has fallen into the same rankings as Sonos, iPhone and Pandora. Useful technologies that have great user interfaces.

  69. al says:

    I tend to disagree. While u run your 300+Watt computer, xbox or whatever to run Netflix streaming, the Roku only churns out 5 Watts. Certainly better than providing more heat to my home theatre components.

  70. jasiji says:

    Looks like the YOU failed.

  71. pete nicks says:

    Mr. Hawk, will you be having crow for dinner?

  72. WhoDat? says:

    Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — Roku Inc., the television set-top box maker spun off by Netflix Inc., is planning to raise $30 million in private funding this quarter and may sell shares to the public next year, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wood said.

    The company, which lets customers stream movies from Netflix and Amazon.com Inc. on their TVs, along with music from Pandora Media Inc., has sold more than 500,000 of its devices, Wood said yesterday in an interview in San Francisco. Revenue may almost double to about $75 million this year, he said.

    The funds would help Roku expand its engineering and marketing as competition mounts. Sony Corp., Nintendo Co. and Microsoft Corp. stream Netflix and other services on game consoles, and Samsung Electronics Co. does so through Blu-ray DVD players. To win customers, Wood plans to continue cutting the price of his devices, which sold for $115 in May 2008 and now go for as little as $80.

    “It gets cheaper and cheaper, and the box will be free at some point in the not-too-distant future,” said Wood, 44, whose ReplayTV was an early seller of digital-video recorders. “We see hardware margins becoming less important over time and subscription content becoming more important.”

    Roku’s fund-raising this quarter will include investments from Menlo Ventures and others, Wood said. He declined to provide the company’s market value. Saratoga, California-based Roku isn’t working with an investment bank and doesn’t have a specific IPO date, he said.

    “Obviously our goal is to go public,” Wood said. “If things continue on this trajectory, I think it would be viable to go public next year.”

    Netflix Sells Stake

    Netflix hired Wood in 2007 to help the movie-rental company move from a mail-order to online service. Netflix planned to release its own box until Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings decided to stay out of the hardware business. Wood created a separate company, and Netflix backed it with $6 million.

    Netflix recently sold its stake to Menlo Ventures, Wood said. Steve Swasey, a spokesman for Los Gatos, California-based Netflix, confirmed the sale and said the company may discuss it with fourth-quarter results today. Roku has raised $24 million from Wood, Netflix and Menlo.

    Wood is focused on signing partners to offer viewers more choices and expects to reach 1 million boxes sold this year. In November, the company introduced the Roku Channel Store, which includes the Pandora music service and photos from Facebook Inc. Roku also offers Revision3 and Blip.tv, which stream original shows on the Internet.

    Roku is recruiting third parties to create channels and offer products including games and submit them for inclusion on the service. The company is devising revenue-sharing agreements for developers who can sell subscriptions on the service or charge per product like Amazon.com.

    Revenue Sharing

    The terms will be comparable to other media products, Wood said. Developers for Apple Inc.’s iPhone get 70 percent of sales, with the rest going to Apple.

    The plan is to have 100 channels this year, Wood said. That will let Roku generate sales from subscriptions and advertisements, much like cable TV channels.

    “We’re not far away from the time when you’ll be able to get the same kinds of channels that any cable operator can offer,” he said.

  73. JS says:

    ^^^The above article says it all.

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon this blog, but man, did this guy make a goof. I wouldn’t rub it in like this, if the tone of the article wasn’t so smug and self assured.

    I just recently cast off my cable box and $150/month bill in favor of the one-time cost Roku-XR and the associated $8.99/month Neflix plan. I was watching almost no cable, and always in my bedroom on the computer watching movies. So what was the logical move? Grab a Roku, and move out onto the several-hundred dollar tube.

    I think the writer of this article has neglected the many folks out there who just want a ton of on demand programming for little money. Over time, the Roku is going to save me quite a bit, and there’s ALWAYS something to watch, when I want to watch it.

  74. Anonymous says:

    your a dumbass, thomas

  75. Bobby says:

    I Hate to break the news to everyone but Netflix will Never I repeat will never have every movie available to watch instantly for one & one reason only “Amazon”. If you have the Roku player you watch a lot of good Movies for a Fee of as little as 1.99-to 3.99 to Rent & 9.99 to Buy & watch them with the Roku Player. That’s why does not have large selection because of Amazon. Vidpoints has small but growing selection for 3.00 a year for drive-in-Classics & moonlight movies for 3.00 a year, This is worth the 3.00 a year

  76. edward harjo says:

    most people sound like they want to get something for nothing. I say if you want to watch an unlimited amount of good movies, depending on your taste [if you’re not gilbert gottfried, or whatever his name is] , stop being so cheap and get you a ROKU box. A hundred dollars well spent. I’ve had one for nearly three years and I have no complaints. I love it, my children love it. I have to monitor what movies they watch though, some movies are too sexy and I got tired of fooling with parental control. my youngest is 7 and there are many, many children movies and cartoons. movies on religion, documentery,biography,etc. sorry, no porn.

  77. Nancy says:

    The xbox 360 costs a lot more than a Roku, so if watching instant movies on TV is your aim, it’s cheaper to get a Roku. With the new upgrade to Netflix’s instant site on Roku, all of the instant play movies are shown directly on TV to be perused and either put in your instant queue or watched right away. At first the system wasn’t working with the new larger information update, and I was discouraged because it worked perfectly before the update. For the past few days it has worked perfectly (mid-June 2010). If it keeps on working now, I would definitely recommend the Roku with Netflix instant movies.

  78. tim sutton says:

    we just bought one we bought this because
    we wanted to see television we already have
    dish service but we are on a tight budget and
    this was a way to get cheap service we added netflix
    to the service and we still get to see movies we have
    not seen and new releases for us it is like free tv
    there is also several other choices of channels movie
    channels and radio channels this has got to be the best
    thing that has ever happened to us subscriptions are cheap
    and i love the fact that the performance of the system is
    better than watching dish network where signal quality depends
    on weather conditions i would love to see hulu on this box
    but other wise finally tv we can afford tim

  79. Ha! says:

    Dear smug blog author:

    Missed the boat on this one, huh?

  80. Charles says:

    Safe to say this article has failed.

  81. Tvaddic says:

    I think we all can agree that you were mistaken. Hey did you hear that Apple stop selling iPods and iPhones they decided that those were a fail. HAHAHAHAHAHA. My advice to you, is to tell you to never play the stock market.

  82. some satellite receivers are not very good in tracking and receiving satellite signals**.

  83. some satellite receivers are not very good in tracking and receiving satellite signals*,.

  84. LETS SEE says:

    Please, this won’t work? After the box cost your cable bill is halved. So it it was 120.. it’s 60.00. Like the computer before it.. it is going to take off. In fact.. it will be built into TV’s. There is a GAP in perception about inventiveness. There is a new wave coming.

  85. WOW! says:

    The New Roku XDS is a xbox killer for netflix and it has youtube and hulu! I’d say this guy spends too much time with his xbox and thinks we all need one!

  86. sam says:


  87. twyla says:

    “Why Netflix Roku Will Fail”

    Jokes on You!

    There’s like 27,000 revies on Roku.com. 27,000?!?! And not everyone writes reviews…

    You should write an I WAS WRONG column!

  88. Nick says:

    Gosh, were YOU wrong about this one! Roku Rocks! In the people’s republic of new york, where many of us do not want to have cable TV, the Roku is not “just another set top box” but the ONLY set top box!

  89. poorRoku says:

    Posted on May 20, 2008, 6:08 am, by admin, under Uncategorized.”

    so why would ANYONE listen to what you have to say?

  90. RokuStrikesBack says:

    I was apprehensive at first. I asked my self so many question before buying the Roku Xds such as how good will the video quality be, is the selection of movies and shows sufficient, and will I regret this purchase? All of my fears faded as I used the device and realized that it was just epic. With the right subscriptions you can find a high percentage of your favorite movies and shows all coming in good definition if not HD. There are also a number of other features that I didn’t expect like internet radio, news channels(thought not local), and anime(Crunchyroll FTW). The Roku is definitely not failing by my standards and in my case certainly is a cable killer. Those who can get past the fact that it isn’t live TV would probably agree.

  91. David says:

    I don’t own an xbox 360. I have a tv, dvd player, and a Sega Genesis. Why would I buy an xbox 360 if all I want is on demand tv? The same kind of stuff I can find on sidereel or project free tv. Except, on my actual tv.

  92. Omar says:

    Why this article failed?

    Because you were so wrong.

  93. Rachael says:

    Wow, was he wrong! Roku keeps getting better. I was looking to buy a used Wii so we didn’t have to keep moving our one Wii console from TV to TV but Roku is a much better device for TV and price. And now it has more uses than when this article was written. For my family, who does not have cable or dish this is a one time cost that will bring happiness to parents and children who want to watch two different movies simultaneously.

  94. haha says:

    your shipment of fail has arrived – you should write an article about how iphone+verizon will fail – quit trolling with lameness

  95. WoW says:

    The ROKU is the best thing I,ve bought in years. A way to get rid of my big ass cable bill. Is this guy sooo wrong. THANK YOU ROKU… LOVE THIS BOX!!!!!

  96. WrongAgainBucko says:

    Wow, sounds like the same guys that said the Light Bulb and later on Internet would never take root.

    Maybe we should read your predictions and do invest in the stock of what you predict will fail. We could make some bucks…

  97. Liquid says:

    If only I could search by actor/actress and have access to the entire library available for streaming through Netflix without having to use my PC to do all this… Perhaps it’s not only a Roku limitation as I can’t do it on any other Netflix streaming device but a PC is still REQUIRED in order to do all that. This is the problem that lies with these devices… You’re handcuffed to a substantial degree using them alone.

  98. John says:

    Actually, Liquid, Roku has a search feature for Netflix. I figure a few more firmware updates and you’ll have a much richer selection for search parameters.

    As for this article, eh, you win some, you lose some. Or a lot.

  99. TBM says:

    Wow. I came across this article and boy was it way off. There are so many people kissing cable and satellite goodbye to just use a Roku box to stream Netflix and Hulu. Goes to show how narrow minded people are and slaves to the status quo.

  100. Mr. TV says:

    Man, this guy was way off. Rokus are selling like hotcakes!

  101. Gary F says:

    Heh. Just checked in to see which Roku box to buy. They’re available everywhere, of course, as would be expected of a hit product. Funny how hard that is to predict, but it certainly is.