Roku partners with Amazon VOD

4:00 PM PST 03/03/2009 by Erik Gruenwedel, Home Media Magazine, AP

Gives users access to more TV programming, films

Roku, manufacturer of a proprietary $99 set-top box that connects the Internet to televisions, said Tuesday it has partnered with Amazon's video-on-demand movie service.

The relationship means Roku owners can now access Amazon's 40,000 movies and its TV programming, in addition to new releases the same day they are available on DVD.

Current Roku customers will receive firmware upgrades allowing them to access Amazon VOD, which offers rentals from $1.99 and downloads from $5.99.

"Consumers are looking for inexpensive ways to watch their favorite movies and TV shows, and the Roku player meets that head-on," said Roy Price, director of Amazon VOD.

Saratoga, Calif.-based Roku broke into the streaming business last year when it unveiled a partnership with online DVD rental pioneer Netflix. The box, which requires a broadband connection, proved such a hit with Netflix subscribers and analysts, Roku temporarily put the devices on back order.

In that deal, Netflix subscribers who purchased a Roku device had access to about 12,000 titles for free streaming (depending on their plans) to their televisions.

Netflix has said that it welcomes Roku branching out the device to third-party content sources.

In a recent financial call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said dissemination of the Roku box would introduce the DVD-by-mail service to a wider audience.

The Roku video player is available at Roku.com or Amazon.com.
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