NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I got a Roku player last month. For want of a better phrase, it's a poor man's Apple (AAPL) TV. You hook it up to your television. Then, instantly, you can stream all sorts of programming, sourced from apps I have never heard of to Pandora (P), Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) instant video. Not to mention the offerings from all of the major professional sports leagues and most of the major cable networks. It's really an excellent device.
Because I like old sitcoms, I immediately hit up the apps that I know have them. As a Prime member, I can catch practically every episode of Cheers via Amazon for free. Amazon also has The Three Stooges, but they charge $1.99 per episode. My wife would kill me if I dropped hundreds to watch the entire catalog. Sony's (SNE) Crackle delivers the Stooges for free. My experience with Crackle, however, was short-lived.
I have always wondered why the free service has not been more of a challenger to Netflix and Hulu. Now, I know why. It's just not very good.While I do not mind the ads that run during programming, I am not a fan of how they randomly appear during the middle of a poke in the eye from Moe or a nyuk, nyuk, nyuk from Curly. I can't seem to put my figure on it, but Crackle feels clunkly; it's just not as sharp and seamless as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. I guess you get what you pay for. I have never wondered why Amazon does not provide serious competition to Netflix. As I have noted earlier on TheStreet, it's not Jeff Bezos' intention to compete with the big dogs in any space, be it Apple in gadgets or Netflix in streaming. All Bezos aims to do is find as many ways as possible to extract money from your pocket and make you succumb to Amazon's ecosystem. Hulu, however, operates from a different strategically competitive position, as I see the landscape. In case you did not know, Hulu ownership splits between its employees, Providence Equity Partners and old guard media members Disney (DIS), News Corp. (NWSA) and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC Universal. Bloomberg reports that Providence Equity is selling it's 10% stake to the big three.
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