In what could be a future distribution model for local stations across the country, WISC-TV, the local CBS affiliate, and it's website (www.Channel3000.com), in Madison, WI, have begun a first-ever partnership with Roku to bring local Wisconsin-area news programming via broadband connection to television sets throughout the nation.
Previously, the Roku platform — which allows broadband connectivity to standard television sets — has mainly been used for movies, music services and other entertainment programming. Its Channel Store allows programmers to create "apps" on its open platform to create a series of preferred "channels." WISC becomes the first broadcast station to create a news channel for the Roku service.
Among a number of benefits, such agreements allow local station to limit the damage caused by nasty retransmission disputes (and increasingly expensive fees) that have plagued many in the country.
"Local content producers like WISC-TV can deliver their online video directly to consumers without having to go exclusively through cable operators and satellite networks providing an entirely new distribution channel overnight," said Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku.
Roku estimated that tens of thousands of its players have been sold in Wisconsin. "For years TV stations have been posting their video on the Web and now their Web video is easily available on TV sets," said Wood. "In addition, displaced residents across the country can tune into the local news of their choice as more channels like WISC-TV come to the Roku platform."
Wood said he expects the new agreement with WISC-TV to open the door to new channels with local broadcasters throughout the U.S. Viewers can add the WISC-TV channel to their Roku player by going into the Roku Channel Store on their TV and look under the "News" section. The channel and its content are free.
"Our new Roku channel will extend the WISC-TV over-the-air brand and our Channel3000.com brand by making it easy to view our Web video on television," said Brian Burns, VP/COO of Morgan Murphy Media, parent company of WISC-TV.
"As we've experienced through Channel3000.com, Madison's number one website, viewers want easy access to our local content through nontraditional means and they want to watch it in the comfort of their living room on their big-screen TV. Establishing this partnership with Roku will be a major win for all our nontraditional viewers," he said.
He said the group owner would also launch Roku channels at the company's other stations in La Crosse, WI, and Spokane, WA.