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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 18, 2013

YouTube Makes Grand Arrival On At Least Some Roku Boxes

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The thought of whiling away a cold winter's night with the help of a cup of hot cocoa, a pair of good quality fuzzy slippers and the Roku box warms more than a few cockles out there, and for some Roku owners—particularly owners of the Roku 3—there's a whole new reason to be enthused. A long awaited new arrival has landed on the Roku 3, and it's going to bring with it a massive array of new programming: YouTube (News - Alert).

The reports suggest that, as of today, Roku 3 users in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom will get access to one of the biggest storehouses of video running today in the form of YouTube. But that's not all those users will be getting, either; the Roku YouTube channel will include an option for high-definition streaming, the ability to use a phone as a YouTube remote by way of a “Send to TV” option—much in the same way the Chromecast does—and even access to all those subscribed channels found online. Further, Google (News - Alert) even has plans—as expressed by a spokesperson with the company—to add more features to the system as well as expand outward from there to other countries.

Of course, there were some unanswered questions here as well, starting with what exactly kept the YouTube channel off the Roku in the first place, and why only Roku 3 is getting access to the YouTube channel when there are plenty of previously-sold Roku systems out there that are being left out of the equation, and thus a whole bundle of users that don't get access.

The idea of bringing YouTube to Roku is one that's been around for some time; it actually was at one point available before it was removed, and then was promptly followed up by a host of other options including the Plex app or Twonky Beam or the like. It's really rather surprising that such options haven't been previously explored; the more devices YouTube can be found on, the better off all concerned are as the more viewers are available to enjoy YouTube programming and in turn drive advertisers. Why Google would voluntarily cut off large clusters of potential viewers is as yet somewhat unclear, though as ever, issues of rights may well be the case.

Some might even be reconsidering the entire Roku box concept in general in favor of a home theater PC. With many of the issues inherent in over-the-top streaming boxes like Roku—limited access to certain channels even with paid subscription (just try getting “Paranormal Witness” from Hulu (News - Alert) Plus on a Roku box even with a paid subscription!) is just one—the thought of hooking a laptop, or even a full desktop, to a television for use as a giant monitor isn't exactly out of line. Add on to this point the idea of using a wireless mouse and keyboard for remotes and the world just sort of opens up from there. Of course, there are some channels available on Roku that don't have direct online equivalents in some cases, so it's a question that each user will have to ask in terms of overall utility.

Still, for some Roku users, it's a very happy day indeed, and even for those Roku users who didn't get in on the YouTube action there's still quite a bit of video to be had, simply, easily and conveniently besides.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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