Roku Adds Live Feed Of Al Jazeera English2/02/2011 10:24 AM Eastern
While major U.S. cable and satellite TV have snubbed Al Jazeera English, Roku now offers free access to the Qatar-based news channel's live feed through its broadband-connected set-tops.
Al Jazeera -- which has gained newfound attention with the widespread political unrest in Egypt -- also provides free access to the live English-language TV channel over the Internet, at http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now.
Roku provides access to Al Jazeera English through its Roku Newscaster channel, which also offers video and audio clips from CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, BBC, NPR, NASA and C-SPAN, among other sources. Multichannel News was able to access the Arabic network's live feed on a Roku box Wednesday over a standard broadband connection, although in sub-HD quality.
Among top U.S. pay-TV operators, only Dish Network offers the Al Jazeera news channel, but only the Arabic-language version, as part of some of its international premium packages.
In the U.S., Al Jazeera English is carried by Buckeye CableSystem in Toledo, Ohio; Burlington Cable in Vermont; direct broadcast satellite provider GlobeCast WorldTV; and Washington Cable and nonprofit broadcaster MHz Networks in Washington, D.C.
In addition, Link TV, a satellite network available on Dish and DirecTV, provides some Al Jazeera newscasts, and the service can be accessed via the Galaxy 23 and 25 DVB-S satellites.
Al Jazeera, whose name means "the island" in Arabic, is funded by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The network's coverage of the current crisis in Egypt has won praise from media observers, while some conservative critics still complain that Al Jazeera has an anti-U.S. bias.
Roku has sold about 1 million of its set-tops, which range in price from $60 to $100.
The Roku box's most popular feature is access to the instant-streaming service from Netflix, and in fact Netflix was previously a major investor in the company but has since divested its stake. The set-top offers more than 135 channels from other content partners, including Hulu Plus, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Pandora and WealthTV.