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Roku adds first linear feed cable channel

Roku users who want to watch content from WealthTV can now do so. But the real benefit of WealthTV addition is ability to see a linear feed of the channel all day, every day.


Roku has inked a deal with WealthTV to bring a linear feed of the television network's programming to its set-top boxes.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, "linear feed," it's because Roku hasn't had anything of the sort until now. Unlike the other channels on the company's platform that provide on-demand access to programming, WealthTV's offering, which costs $2.99 per month, will act as a television channel, letting users drop in to see what's on. The network will be sending out its programming to Roku devices 24 hours a day, seven days a week just as it does on Verizon's Fios TV service, among others.

Roku, which recently announced that more than 1 billion pieces of content have been streamed through its set-top boxes, said that those who prefer on-demand programming from WealthTV will be able to access that, as well.

The addition of WealthTV might not be enough to get users to jump at buying a Roku--the channel is hardly known to television viewers, since its programming isn't available to Time Warner Cable or Comcast subscribers. However, its impact on television providers and the way in which consumers access programming could be profound. If more linear feed programming comes to set-top boxes, the need for cable or satellite service could diminish. More importantly, such a shift could cut out cable and satellite operators, and create a more direct business relationship between networks and consumers.

At least for now, the chances of that happening anytime soon seem slim, since WealthTV is just one of several providers that would need to make the jump to have any sizable impact on the industry. But in the coming months, more networks might follow WealthTV's lead. A Roku spokesperson said in a phone conversation with CNET today that the company is confident that it will ink similar deals with providers in 2011.