I thought that the new NBC News channel on Roku was a good sign from an old-school media outlet. I thought that NBC's release of a Roku channel signaled that the news network was going to embrace alternatives to cable and satellite. Unfortunately, NBC's one step forward was paired with the proverbial two steps back, as we found out today that all NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC content has been pulled from the Roku Newscaster channel.
Roku Newscaster used to carry full-length podcasts of popular shows like The Rachal Maddox Show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Meet the Press, and NBC Nightly News. The new NBC News channel, however, carries only selected content that is broken up into short clips of just a few minutes each. You can still get most of some shows, like NBC Nightly News, but there's a delay between each segment as the video loads, and some shows are not found on the NBC News channel at all.
I'm not knocking the standalone NBC News channel. It delivers a lot of interesting content and it's updated throughout the day so it's timely content as well. It's ad-supported so you have to sit through some commercials, but they don't play for every video like they do on Wall Street Journal Live. But NBC is now spoon-feeding content to Roku viewers, deciding which shows to include and which snippets of video to provide.
The channel announcement on Roku's blog is being met with a lot of complaints about the dropping of NBC content from Newscaster, but the reaction on Roku's Facebook page is somewhat mixed. Those who didn't know about Roku Newscaster seem to be pleased with the new offering, while devoted fans of some of the full-length Newscaster offerings are upset.
If you're one of the upset ones, I suggest that you make your voice heard by contacting NBC, and don't get upset with Roku. Content appears on the Roku courtesy of the content owner. Most likely, NBC told Roku to kill their Newscaster content so that viewers are directed to the NBC News channel, which was developed by NBC, not Roku. Contact information for NBC's public relations specialist is available at the end of NBC's press release announcing the availability of the new Roku channel, and you can tweet your displeasure to @NBCNewsPR