Roku, YouTube Give Al-Jazeera English New Paths to Your TV
Like my colleague Ed Oswald, I've been marveling at Al-Jazeera English's coverage of the protests in Egypt. Particularly, I appreciate how the channel is treating its journalism like a public service, with a free live stream on the Web and a Creative Commons license for other networks to use its footage.
But unlike Ed, I'm not lamenting cable companies' stonewalling of the channel because, well, I don't subscribe to cable. Still, I get the desire to watch Al Jazeera English's coverage on a television, so I'm glad Roku has stepped in with a solution for its set-top boxes. Roku owners can now tap into Al-Jazeera English's live feed through the Newscaster app in the Roku Channel Store.
That's a pretty nice development for web video in general. One of the common complaints with cord-cutting is that you lose access to 24-hour news networks such as CNN or Fox News, who only make their feeds available to pay TV subscribers. Al-Jazeera English provides a good workaround, albeit one that won't give you national news coverage if you're in the United States.
In addition to Roku, YouTube is now running a live feed of Al-Jazeera English, potentially allowing the Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii and other connected TVs and set-top boxes to access the channel. I'll be able to test that out on the two consoles' web browsers in an hour or so, and will update with the results. (Update: No luck with the YouTube feed on Playstation 3 or Wii, but I did get the feed from Al-Jazeera's own website running in the PS3′s web browser.)