Creating a Roku Channel: Cost and Step-by-Step Guide


If you are in the broadcasting business or want to get into the broadcasting business then creating your own Roku channel is paramount. Creating a Roku channel is the quickest way to get your content in front of millions of people. Roku has sold over 50 million boxes and the number rises daily. Roku also makes their own branded TV with Roku built into it which makes them a real player in the Smart TV sector.

Lets first talk about the different aspects of owning and operating your own Roku channel. Even if you have created your own ROKU channel you still need a way to manage it. This includes creating video playlists, scheduling video playlists, managing VOD content and more. Obviously you also need a reliable CDN to allow seamless delivery of your video to your audience without buffering. In other words you need a Video Platform that can do all your behind the scenes work so that your channel has a professional look and feel.

Once you have your video platform in place then you need to decide on what you want your ROKU channel to look like and function. There are different styles of Roku apps. You have Roku apps that can deliver a “Netflix” type of feel and look. These apps typically order your content into categories and you assign videos to each category. Categories like Action, Comedy, Adventure, etc…. can help you organize content in a presentable way for your viewers.

You can create Roku channels that also deliver the look and feel of a “traditional” TV channel. In other words everything runs on a schedule. This means only what is scheduled is available for viewing just like watching real TV (of course your video platform will need to have this ability).  You create lists of videos then schedule them for playing. Next you have apps that is a combination of the two. These roku apps that you create can do both VOD and your traditional TV channel (playlists). Typically these Roku channels will have the TV channels at the top of the app and the VOD content down below it. This allows your viewers to both watch live/pre-recorded (scheduled) content or browse your VOD content.

Last but not least is a custom Roku channel. This is where you design both the look and the functionality of your Roku channel. Roku uses a computer language called BrightScript. This language is unique only to Roku. This means that unlike other computer languages that can be used to write programs for multiple industries, BrightScript is only for Roku devices. This means that the cost of custom development is higher because less developers understand and can write using the BrightScript language.

How much does it cost to create a Roku channel? Typically you have your upfront cost for “development” and then you have the monthly cost for your video platform. If you are using a Roku app that has already been created by a video platform and used for existing customers (a template app) you can have your development costs significantly reduced (Less than $3000) and submitted to the Roku store. However custom apps can start at 7500 and go up to tens of thousands depending on what your requirements.  Your monthly cost will typically be 200 to 500 a month no matter if you have a custom app or not.

If you are looking for a turnkey solution that will provide Roku channel creation as well as the video platform then check out tvstartup.com

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Roku Channel Development Costs


Roku Device

If you are reading this, you already know that Roku is one of the most popular internet TV streaming devices, with over 70 million monthly active users worldwide (as of January 2023 per Rokus press release). Tens of millions of people tune in daily on their Roku devices or Smart TVs, and having your own Roku app there can lift your brand significantly.

Roku is a robust platform that allows you to easily access thousands of streaming channels, including paid and free options. In addition, you can find live sports, news, movies, music, TV shows, and more on the device. With so much content available for viewers, it’s no wonder that Roku has become the leading streaming platform.

 

Roku offers users access to programs, films, and series in various languages. With up to 20,000 channels available, Roku users have more opportunities than ever to find the perfect programs for them. While this leaves many options for viewers, this also makes for a great opportunity for channel owners. Compare this to YouTube’s 50 million channels….that means there is a lot less competition in your space. This makes Roku a device of choice for those looking to take advantage of the platform’s visibility and be seen by many viewers.

 

As you look to establish your channel and monetize video content, having a Roku channel on its platform should be at the top of your list of places to be to reach your intended audience.

What does a Roku developer do?

With Roku, developers have various options to set up their channels. The Development Application Installation Software allows them to install or “sideload” the channel’s software onto Roku devices for testing and validation before they submit it for publishing. This is invaluable in ensuring that all necessary checks are completed before releasing the application into the public domain.

 

Roku developers also have access to a wide range of tools and resources, including SDKs, APIs, and programming languages, allowing them to develop their channel’s features. They can use the Roku Development Kit (RDK) to create complex user interfaces with graphics capabilities and powerful audio/video streaming technologies.

 

Additionally, Roku provides comprehensive documentation and support to help developers create the best possible experience for their viewers. When developing a Roku channel, developers need to ensure it is secure and compliant with Roku’s guidelines. This is important to ensure the safety of viewers who use the channel and maintain a high quality of service.

What programming language does Roku use?

The Roku SDK streamlines the development process and simplifies it using BrightScript, its proprietary software. This enables the platform to offer a comprehensive set of services for users.

Roku App Development

With the help of Roku’s built-in Developer Program—Roku Direct Publisher—you can easily create your channel. You don’t need any coding knowledge or special software; just create an account in Roku’s Developer Portal and fill out some simple information about your channel (like name, description, logo etc.) to publish it.

 

Although this may be considered a DIY option, its features could be more comprehensive, and you might need additional solutions for your streaming, such as hosting services, Content Delivery Network (CDN), live streaming solutions, and dashboard tools with the playlist-building capability to broadcast successfully. Plus, that is just to publish your video content to just Roku devices; if you want to be on other platforms, you will need other services.

 

Before diving right into the development costs of a Roku app when creating your channel, we first have to understand the different channels available on Roku. First, you have the standard linear channel that acts just like a traditional TV channel. This Roku channel is usually broadcast according to a schedule and has no VOD content. These are the least expensive Roku channels to make, with fewer costs than more advanced apps. However, remember that if you are broadcasting a schedule on Roku, you still need a video playout machine or service to schedule and play your videos onto your Roku app.

 

Next, you have Netflix-style Roku apps that are centered for Video On Demand content. These apps usually contain categories of VOD content that displays to your viewers. The viewers then select the category and the video they want to play. These apps are great for displaying archived content as well. These apps are a little more expensive but still not too hefty. Keep in mind that your monthly cost for your Roku app is going to depend on the video platform company you choose to manage it. You can not be on Roku without a video platform to manage VOD categories (dynamic categories), create playlists, and schedule video playlists.

 

As a professional Roku development service, TvStartup has produced turn-key app templates for Roku which come with built-in support for all the common features most channel owners are looking for. These include built-in integrations for live streaming and 24/7 scheduled programming across multiple channels, as well as Video On Demand (VOD) categories, subscriptions, and pay-per-view for charging viewers to access your content and are ready-made to accept automatic ad insertion so you can earn money from ad revenue on your channel. This helps your viewers get access to everything they’re looking for on your channel, with your live channels right at the top and your video-on-demand library below.

 

TvStartup’s service also combines storage to host the videos, a CDN to deliver the videos smoothly to viewers, and an easy-to-use online dashboard for channel owners to manage their channels from one spot. So how much do these apps cost? For a turn-key app template branded for your channel, the cost is usually less than $2000 upfront. Anywhere from $200 to $500 per month for the video platform, you will use to manage it, which will include built-in coverage for supporting the uptime of your channel and fixing any issues or making updates to your channel over time. Suppose you’re building a do-it-yourself channel style with direct publisher and several third-party services to host, deliver and manage your videos. In that case, you might encounter costs of $500 to $3000 per month in combined service charges from these third-party providers, along with a fair bit of manual maintenance to keep your channel running properly, publish new content, and fix any issues arise.

 

Finally, we have what you consider “custom” Roku app development. This is where you have a custom design

with custom functionalities. These apps are the most expensive because they have not been created yet. A custom app can cost you anywhere from $7500 and go up considerably depending on your requirements. Roku app development costs depend on you and what your vision for your channel is. Roku has a programming language called BrightScript. This has given Roku devices some unique abilities however, having its language has a drawback in that developers have to learn new skills when creating Roku channels. So this has caused the price to go up a bit.

 

The cost for maintenance and hosting of your app also has to be factored in. Depending on the complexity, you will have to pay a developer or team of developers to maintain your channel on an ongoing basis. Also, you should consider other expenses related to streaming, such as media encoding and storage costs. Finally, as with any streaming service, the price for content delivery and advertisement insertion can add up if not managed correctly.

 

Make sure that when pricing out a channel development project, you factor in all these additional costs so that you can budget accordingly. Finally, working with experienced Roku developers who specialize in creating Roku channels is essential as they understand how best to build an immersive experience on devices like the TV while staying within your budget.

Final Thoughts

 

Starting a Roku channel can be intimidating due to all of the technical requirements and costs. However, there is a much simpler way to expand your brand and reach a broader audience than ever. Partnering with the right OTT service provider allows you to make your original content available through the world’s largest streaming device in one integration. Integration simplifies the process and can improve your Pay Per View (PPV), VOD, FAST, and AVOD offerings by eliminating the middleman for greater potential revenue gains. Roku development has never been easier!

If you are looking for a company that can both create and manage your Roku apps, you should check out tvstartup.com, as they are an OTT Provider that provides a done-for-you solution vs. a DIY one. Plus, with their dashboard, you are not stuck with one platform like you would be with Roku direct publisher; you can simultaneously publish to Fire TV, Apple TV, your website, and mobile app platforms. You will have all the tools you need to get back to what you do best, creating great video content. They have turnkey packages that can get you started right away. You can often get started for much less than the prices stated above.

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