Peter Kafka

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Angry Birds Coming to TV, Via Roku

Yes, there are still places you can’t see Angry Birds yet. Roku wants to fix that: The company, whose boxes are best known for making it easier to play Netflix on your TV, says it will bring the pig-killing game there, too.

Roku says it will start selling casual games, beginning with all three versions of Rovio’s addictive titles, this summer.

But wait a minute: Rovio sells hardware that you connect to your TV and the Internet, but it doesn’t sell things you need to play games, like joysticks and other game controllers. How are Rovio customers going to play this stuff?

(Also, isn’t half the fun of Angry Birds the joy you get when you pull your finger across an iPhone or Android handset and send one of the little dudes catapulting into a building? What’s the point of doing this game on a non-touchscreen, anyway?)

Rovio won’t say, yet, except that it’s going to start selling other devices, too. It also won’t talk about pricing or anything else specific. So best not to burn too many calories on this until they do.

Still, here’s the press release:

Roku Partners with Rovio to Bring First Angry Birds Experience to TV; Expands Internet TV Platform to Include Casual Games

Saratoga, Calif. and Espoo, Finland – June 1, 2011 – Roku, Inc., the leading Internet TV platform, and Rovio, creator of the leading casual game Angry Birds, today announced that the companies have entered into a strategic partnership to bring the first Angry Birds experience to the TV. Roku will offer Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio video games; launch an Angry Birds video channel featuring Angry Birds animated shorts; and sell Angry Birds merchandise—all via the Roku Channel Store.

The announcement today also marks Roku’s expansion of its successful Internet TV platform to include casual games. Rovio is the first partner to bring casual games to Roku though the company is in talks with other casual game providers and aggregators, and will make additional announcements including availability details within the next few weeks. In addition, Roku continues to be an open platform allowing for content owners of all sizes to have a channel that streams to the TV.

“Angry Birds is the most popular and fastest growing casual game yet it has been trapped on mobile devices. We believe there’s a huge market for games like these on the TV,” said Roku Founder and CEO Anthony Wood. “Just as we were first to enable Netflix to stream instantly to the TV, we intend to be the catalyst for transforming the way people play casual games—starting with Angry Birds—on the biggest screen in the home.”

“We are growing Angry Birds into a lasting global entertainment franchise and Roku’s strong platform enables us to introduce the full Angry Birds experience of games, videos and merchandise to the TV,” said Rovio Chief Marketing Officer Peter Vesterbacka. “It was an easy decision to partner with Roku. They are a small company like us, are easy to work with, and of course make the best-selling streaming player. We expect Roku and Angry Birds fans to be thrilled with the TV experience that we are bringing them.”

With its launch in May 2008 as the original Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) streaming player, Roku became the first Internet TV platform to take hold with mainstream American consumers. In 2009, Roku added the Roku Channel Store, the first true app store and open development environment for long- and shortform streaming entertainment to the TV. Since then, Roku is the partner of choice for content owners who want to reach TV viewers directly. The simplicity of the Roku platform sets it apart—allowing developers to quickly deploy content with a variety of monetization options.

With more than 250 entertainment channels, Roku players deliver the best collection of streaming entertainment available for the TV. Roku customers can choose from an enormous selection of movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video (NASDAQ: AMZN), Crackle and Revision3; live and on-demand sports from NBA Game Time, NHL GameCenter Live and Ultimate Fighting Championship; music from Pandora, MOG, Rdio, and TuneIn Radio; photo and video sharing from Flickr and Facebook; plus news and entertainment from around the world—and soon, popular casual games like Angry Birds.

Angry Birds was released by Rovio in late 2009, and became a worldwide phenomenon within one year.

Rovio has since released a number of Angry Birds games for all major smartphone platforms, as well as PC and Mac. Today, the Angry Birds games have been downloaded more than 200 million times across all platforms. With this global success, Angry Birds has expanded into a franchise that now includes broadcast media, merchandising, publishing and services. Rovio has sold more than three million units of Angry Birds merchandise to consumers in more than 100 countries.

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