Your Custom Channel on ROKU - Why it's a "now or never" situation

Last year’s success and growth of new set-top boxes such as Roku came to no surprise to professionals in the cutting edge media delivery and CDN industry.

I remember my first public speaking engagements at leadership conferences in Europe and the US in 2011 as I spoke about the “open window of opportunity” for faith-based organizations, churches and NPOs to broadcast to new audiences worldwide through new set-top boxes and SmartTV outlets such as Roku and GoogleTV.

Back then – over two years ago by now – these devices were fairly unknown, but having started to develop channel apps for them, we had instantly seen that we were up to something big – a game changer for anyone who seeks to broadcast and extend their reach at very low costs.

I often talked about how this may be one of the greatest opportunities for broadcasters, especially for churches and faith-based organizations, we have seen in decades and that it was a “now or never” situation because eventually it would get harder to publish new channels on these outlets, as they are starting to fill up.

A lot has happened since then. Here are a few developments from just the past 12 months:

1. Many businesses, churches and NPOs have discovered Roku recently and are looking for ways to publish their own channels.
2. Many of the larger players have already launched their Roku channels with significant budgets available for such a move.
3. Roku’s US Channel store is already getting crowded. The first-movers have all the advantage.
4. Especially the “Religion & Spirituality” category (into which Roku automatically places all religious content) has become flooded with new channels.
5. Roku’s review times for new channel submissions have tripled.
6. While the major advantage and emphasis of set-top-boxes is VOD, very few channels have dared to publish livestreams and 24/7 streams – which still holds an enormous potential.

In light of the past 6 months and the rapidly increasing review times of new channel submissions, I cannot stress the point enough, that it really is a “now or never” situation. Those lucky ones who were fast enough in making their decision on a custom Roku Channel have already staked their claim on their own property on the fastest growing SmartTV (streaming media) outlet of all times.

Is it already too late for new channels? Not yet. I predict an open opportunity for a few more months, but I also believe that Roku will eventually (pretty soon) become more selective in which types of channels they will publish and favor.

From the perspective as developer and CDN for set-top boxes we can already picture the scenario in a year from now: many organizations will regret having hesitated too long and having worried about a few hundred bucks in bandwidth costs per month, after missing the opportunity to have their own custom-branded channel up on the largest SmartTV network in the world. By the rate Roku is growing it will have several hundred of millions of viewers worldwide in a few years. It is just a matter of time and the question is will you have secured your own property on this network in time?

Due to the urgency the Lightcast Missions Fund has given out another grant to 50 additional churches and NPOs in North America, covering their entire costs for the development of a single-channel Roku app. If any of these 5 questions made you hesitate until now – please reply to this email as soon as possible:

1. Can we afford it? What are the costs involved?
2. We would love to publish multiple channels, playlists, streams or have custom pay-per-few or subscription features built into our Roku App. Is that possible?
3. We don’t know yet what our Roku App should look like and which features it should eventually include. Do we have more time to develop a concept?
4. We are already hosting our video content somewhere. Can those servers deliver the content?
5. We don’t know which bitrates and file formats are required and what all of Roku’s requirements are in general. Can someone help us with that?


Please email me by replying to this email. I will respond personally and help you find the very best solution to secure your own and exclusive property on Roku quickly, as long as that is still possible.