Cable channel WealthTV testing OTT waters, will begin linear streaming over Roku

Cable channel WealthTV, which has been battling with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House over several carriage issues, is announcing Tuesday that it will become the first broadcast quality, high definition national cable network delivered over-the-top to Roku users on a 24/7 live streaming basis. The company said it also would make numerous video on demand titles available on the Roku streaming player, giving Roku viewers a "cable-like" watching experience.

WealthTV features world travel, outrageous cars, culinary delights, top fashion, international news, movies and much more.

The deal is significant for Roku in that it marks the first time a channel that has a legitimate cable presence--WealthTV is carried by Charter Communications, AT&T's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS TV, among others--will be available over a streaming device. Roku users can subscribe to WealthTV for $2.99 a month.

"We've received a large volume of consumer requests to expand our distribution to connected devices and this deployment will let us gauge the acceptability and viability of alternative distribution methods for our traditional cable feed," said WealthTV founder and CEO Robert Herring Sr.

WealthTV may be the first cable channel to jump to streaming distribution, but it's not the only one considering a non-traditional delivery route. Reports say Roku is in talks with several other channels and Internet cable operator iviTV late last year said it, too, had held discussions with a number of channels looking for alternatives to cable.

"With Roku surpassing one million units sold last year and with Roku customers averaging over 11 hours of programming on Roku a week, it's logical for national programming services to make their content lineup available to our growing user base," said Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku.

WealthTV's test of Roku's ability to deliver it to more viewers may pave the way for other channels to test the waters as well, especially with increasing consumer desire for a la carte content offerings. WealthTV's linear programming feed to Roku will also include commercials.

WealthTV currently has a reach of about 11 million homes. It has historically been on the leading edge, launching HD programming in 2004, making it one of the oldest high definition national programmer networks. It's also made the decision to produce all of its programming in 3D, looking toward new opportunities in that market.

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