Roku announced this week that it signed on with Major League Baseball to deliver MLB.tv Premium to its set-top box. It's the first live content that the device, which is best known for its Netflix streaming, will offer.
But like many other set-top boxes on the market, the services the Roku box offers aren't unique to that device. Netflix streaming is available on a large and growing number of devices, including TiVo DVRs, the Xbox 360, and all newer LG and Samsung Blu-ray players and home theater systems. In addition to the Roku, MLB programming is available on the PC, through Boxee, and through various cable and satellite TV packages.
Indeed, many TVs, Blu-ray players, DVRs, and home theater systems now have a baseline configuration that makes it relatively easy to add streaming services via postpurchase firmware upgrades. At this point, adding content seems almost as simple as calling the content provider and having lawyers work up an agreement between the parties.
The problem is, those partners are not necessarily working together. The hardware providers want those streaming or download services to be exclusive to their boxes. The content providers want their entertainment to be made available on as many devices (STBs or otherwise) as possible. Those very different goals are causing set-top boxes to provide most, but not all, the services that consumers want.… Read more