The $99 Roku streaming video box just became a much better deal for baseball fans: Tonight, the company is updating the box with new software to support MLB.TV, Major League Baseball’s live game TV service.
With a MLB.TV Premium subscription — $35 for the rest of the year — and a Roku box, you’ll be able to stream unlimited out-of-market games live and on-demand. (More info here.)
This is the latest chapter of two stories:
1) MLB Advanced Media continues to kick other leagues’ butts — and most media companies’ butts, too — at getting its video on the Web in as many formats as makes sense.
Live MLB.TV games are now available on PCs and Macs, on the iPhone and iPod touch, via Boxee, and now via Roku. The league has some distinct advantages — including a monopoly over its content and no significant reliance on cable carriers for revenue — but it is truly ahead of most content companies.
2) So-called “over-the-top” Web video platforms like Roku are starting to come together in ways that should start to make cable companies think hard about improving their awful user experiences and dominating the digital living room.
To be explicit, Roku is streaming live hi-def sports to your TV over the Internet, without a computer, without a subscription fee. Eventually, there’s going to be enough stuff available to justify quitting your expensive cable package — we already have. (In addition to MLB.TV, Roku also streams Netfix and Amazon movies and TV shows.)
Cable has several incumbent advantages: Owning the pipe that runs into your house, owning the set-top box already plugged into your TV, long-term, lucrative relationships with content owners, etc. But it must get its act together or it will continue to be disrupted.
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