VideoBuzz, the private channel that provides Roku users with access to YouTube videos, is shutting down. The following notice is posted on the VideoBuzz Facebook page:
"We received a notice from Roku management asking us to close down the channel as we don't own the content which is being streamed by VideoBuzz channel. As of now, we will be closing down the channel on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013."
This shouldn't come as a surprise, as a previous private YouTube channel was similarly shut down. Roku CEO Anthony Wood recently talked about YouTube's obvious absence as an official Roku channel: "The reason Wood gave for the lack of YouTube on Roku’s boxes today is that the Google YouTube app requires the use of HTML, and since this app must be used with any YouTube implementation, the company decided that it didn’t want a disappointing experience."
But YouTube videos worked quite well on the Roku using VideoBuzz, so what's this HTML deal all about? My opinion is that it comes down to advertising, and the ads require the use of an HTML-based app. VideoBuzz users may have noticed that YouTube videos playing in VideoBuzz don't display ads at the beginning of a video, and don't display those little banner ads at the bottom of a video. No ads, no revenue. If and when an official YouTube channel comes to Roku, you can bet that it will include advertising.
In the meantime, Google (owner of YouTube) is probably not happy about all those videos being streamed without ads. If Google doesn't want an unauthorized third-party app accessing its content, then Roku is obliged to kill the offending app. The Roku developer agreement states that the developer must own, or have the rights to, the content in the channel application.
So how can Roku users watch YouTube videos on their Roku-connected TVs? CNET's Sharon Vankin prefers Twonky, an app that streams videos from your mobile device (table, smartphone, etc.) directly to your Roku player. I haven't had any luck getting Twonky to run on my own Roku, but you can read CNET's article here. With the demise of VideoBuzz, I'll give Twonky another try. Look for an upcoming review here on RokuGuide.