Whenever you’re dealing with premium video content that’s going to be distributed online, the most important question is always about money. Or, rather, how exactly the TV show or film you’re distributing is actually going to make any. Case in point: YouTube Mobile didn’t have any of VEVO’s music videos for months despite the tight relationship between the companies, because YouTube didn’t have a way to present them with ads. Then YouTube enabled pre-roll ads for some mobile devices, and now Android users can watch VEVO from their phones. Simple enough, right?
But inserting ads into content isn’t always as easy as it seems, especially when you’re dealing with HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), which is typically used on iOS devices and plenty of other players. One company that’s working hard to change this is mDialog. The mobile video platform allows content owners to upload their assets, flag when in each video they want an ad to appear, and then distribute that content to users. And today the company is announcing that it’s added support for the Roku media player.
So what does that mean for Roku? The Roku box uses HLS to stream video to customers — now the company will be able to give publishers another way to monetize content they push to Roku users. And that in turn means Roku will be able to attract more content partners.
Roku just announced today that it’s getting its first “linear stream” of content through a partnership with WealthTV (which will stream content 24/7 like a cable channel, instead of on demand like Roku’s other content partners). WealthTV is going to charge $2.99 per month, but Roku may be able to attract partners willing to offer free linear streams provided they can insert their ads using platforms like mDialog.
One other interesting thing to note about mDialog: CEO Greg Philpott says that the system has been set up so that ads are injected into the HLS stream without any kind of buffering, so it’s a lot more like watching TV than many of the ads that appear on other streaming services. Of course, it’s not all roses: even if you get to skip the buffering, you still have to sit through an ad.