How to Create a Direct Publisher Roku Channel


There is also a Developer SDK version of this walk-through.

The following steps will guide you through the process of building a Direct Publisher Roku channel. Sample video content and poster image URLs are provided, but feel free to substitute URLs for your own videos and posters if you wish.

This Direct Publisher walk-through will take about 30 minutes to complete.

The YouTube video version of this walk-through is available here: https://youtu.be/YOKeo95cMkM

Prerequisites:
  1. An Instant TV Channel account.
  2. A Roku Developer Account at http://developer.roku.com.
  3. A Roku device connected to a TV set or computer monitor, or a TV set with a built-in Roku device.

Step-by-Step Directions:

  1. Log into your Instant TV Channel account.
  2. From the menu along the left side of the page, select Channels.

    If this is a new account, you will already have a brand new channel waiting to be filled with content.

    If you want to start fresh, click the Create New Channel button at the bottom of the channel list. Select a channel type of Classic then click the Confirm button.

    Your new Roku channel is at the bottom of your channel list, and should be highlighted in yellow.

  3. From the menu along the left side of the page, select Theme. This will display the Theme Editor. For Developer SDK channels the Theme Editor allows you to change the look and feel of your Roku channel. For Direct Publisher channels the Theme Editor is much more limited, and will only allow you to change the title, the channel language, and the build_version.

    Make sure that the Theme parameters selector is set to "Direct Publisher".

    Then, in the title parameter box, change "My Channel" to the name you want your new channel to have, for example "My Quick Channel".

  4. From the menu along the left side of the page, select Content.

    This is the Content Editor. It allows you to change the details of individual video items. It also lets you add new video items and categories, and move, copy, or delete existing items.

    Notice the Content Editor Help shown in the window along the right side of the page. This window often contains useful information about how to use the current page.

    The content "tree" shown in the upper left window is a visual representation of your Roku channel's content. Each video and category item is shown here. Clicking any item causes the details of that item to be shown in the lower detail window, and any poster artwork associated with the item is shown in the upper right poster window. Clicking the + symbol next to a list , series , grid , or grid-row expands it to show the content item(s) it contains.

    The yellow folders are different types of lists which are important if you are using the Developer SDK method of publishing a Roku channel. Since this is a Direct Publisher type of Roku channel, the yellow folders represent categories which can be used to organize your videos and may be optionally displayed in the channel, but there is no difference between the list types such as Horizontal, Vertical, or Grid Row. Only the Series List has special significance in a Direct Publisher Roku channel.

    There is only one content item currently in the channel . Let's change some of the information for that item.

    1. In the parameter box labeled Title, replace "New Video or Audio" with:
      Plan 9 From Outer Space
    2. In the parameter box labeled Description, replace the default text with:
      Worst Movie Ever Made!
    3. In the parameter box labeled ThumbnailURL, replace the default URL with:
      http://roku.odd.com/plan9/poster_800x450.jpg
    4. Scroll down the parameter list until the Length parameter box is visible. Change the default length of 01:00:00 (hours:minutes:seconds) to the actual length of the video which is:
      01:18:31
    5. Scroll further down to the parameter box labeled ReleaseDate, and change the date to:
      1959-07-22
    6. Scroll down to the parameter box labeled DirectPublishGenre and change it to:
      science fiction
    7. Scroll to the parameter box labeled DirectPublishTags.

      Replace the "Sample" tag with new tag "vampire":
      vampire
    8. Here is what the completed content page for "Plan 9 From Outer Space" should look like:

  5. Completed Content Page for "Plan 9 From Outer Space" - Basic Developer Mode
  6. We're going to need more than one video in the sample channel, so let's add another video content item .

    1. Right click on the top-level yellow folder , and select "New Video or Audio". This creates a new content item at the top of the content tree, directly above the "Plan 9 From Outer Space" item.
    2. In the new item's Title parameter box, replace "New Video or Audio" with:
      Space Shuttle
    3. In the parameter box labeled Description, replace the default text with:
      The landing of space shuttle STS-129.
    4. In the parameter box labeled ThumbnailURL, replace the default URL with:
      http://roku.odd.com/shuttle/poster_800x450.jpg
    5. Because the shuttle stream is of a higher quality (it was created more recently!) than the older "Plan 9" stream, we will be providing two separate bitrate renditions of the video. Both renditions are of identical content, but one is an SD stream of about 700 Kbps, and the other is an HD stream of about 2 Mbps. Using two different bitrate streams allows the Roku device to select the optimal stream for its currently detected network speed.

      1. Locate the Stream 1 parameter group and replace the default Archive.org Plan 9 Url parameter with the URL pointing to the SD version of the video:
        http://roku.odd.com/shuttle/shuttle_sd.mp4
      2. Replace the Bitrate parameter value of "0" with the actual bitrate (in kilobits per second) of the SD version of the video:
        725
      Click the "New" button beneath the Stream 1 label. This creates an additional set of stream parameters named Stream 2.
      1. In the new Stream 2 parameter group replace the default Archive.org Plan 9 Url parameter with the URL pointing to the HD version of the video:
        http://roku.odd.com/shuttle/shuttle_hd.mp4
      2. Replace the Bitrate parameter value of "0" with the actual bitrate (in kilobits per second) of the HD version of the video:
        2256
    6. Scroll down the parameter list until the Length parameter box is visible. Change the default length of 01:00:00 to the actual length of the Space Shuttle video which is:
      00:01:38
    7. Scroll further down to the parameter box labeled ReleaseDate, and change the date to:
      2009-11-27
    8. Scroll down to the parameter box labeled DirectPublishGenre and change it to:
      documentary
    9. Scroll to the parameter box labeled DirectPublishTags. Replace the "Sample" tag with new tag "nasa":

      nasa
    10. Here is what the completed content page for "Space Shuttle" should look like:

  7. Completed Content Page for "Space Shuttle" - Basic Developer Mode
  8. We're going to add one final video to the sample channel, so that there are a total of three videos.

    1. Right click on the top-level yellow folder , and select "New Video or Audio". This creates another new content item at the top of the content tree, directly above the "Space Shuttle" item.
    2. In the new item's Title parameter box, replace "New Video or Audio" with:
      Big Buck Bunny
    3. In the parameter box labeled Description, replace the default text with:
      A day in the life of Big Buck Bunny.
    4. In the parameter box labeled ThumbnailURL, replace the default URL with:
      http://roku.odd.com/buck/poster_800x450.jpg
    5. We will again be using two separate URLs, one for the lower-quality SD version, and the other for the higher-quality HD version.

      1. Locate the Stream 1 parameter group and replace the default Archive.org Plan 9 Url parameter with the URL pointing to the SD version of the Big Buck Bunny video:
        http://roku.odd.com/buck/buck_sd.mp4
      2. Replace the Bitrate parameter value of "0" with the actual bitrate (in kilobits per second) of the SD version of the video:
        815
      Click the "New" button beneath the Stream 1 label. This creates an additional set of stream parameters named Stream 2.
      1. In the new Stream 2 parameter group replace the default Archive.org Plan 9 Url parameter with the URL pointing to the HD version of the video:
        http://roku.odd.com/buck/buck_hd.mp4
      2. Replace the Bitrate parameter value of "0" with the actual bitrate (in kilobits per second) of the HD version of the video:
        2138
    6. Scroll down the parameter list until the Length parameter box is visible. Change the default length of 01:00:00 to the actual length of the Big Buck Bunny video which is:
      00:09:57
    7. Scroll further down to the parameter box labeled ReleaseDate, and change the date to:
      2008-04-10
    8. Scroll down to the parameter box labeled DirectPublishGenre and change it to:
      animated
    9. Scroll to the parameter box labeled DirectPublishTags. Replace the "Sample" tag with new tag "bunny":

      bunny
    10. Here is what the completed content page for "Big Buck Bunny" should look like:

    Completed Content Page for "Big Buck Bunny" - Basic Developer Mode
  9. Now we will set up a couple of Direct Publisher categories in the channel. Each category will correspond to a row in the grid displayed on the TV screen. There are several different ways to build the Direct Publisher categories. We will use Horizontal Lists to build the categories, although we could just as easily have used a different Instant TV Channel list type.
  10. Right-click on the top-level yellow folder and select "New Horizontal List". This will create a new "New Horizontal List" folder just beneath the top-level folder.
  11. Right-click again on the top-level yellow folder and again select "New Horizontal List". There will now be two "New Horizontal List" folders just beneath the top-level folder.
  12. Left-click the first "New Horizontal List" folder, and change its ShortDescriptionLine1 parameter displayed in the lower half of the page to "Fiction". This will cause the name shown to the right of the folder to be updated.

  13. Repeat the previous step for the second "New Horizontal List" folder, but name this one "Space".
  14. Left-click the "+" symbol to the left of each of the two new folders. This will open each folder and display a default "New Video or Audio" content item within each folder. The content tree should look like this:
  15. Drag and drop the "Big Buck Bunny" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space" items into the "Fiction" folder. Then drag and drop the "Space Shuttle" item into the "Space" folder. If the items are correctly located in the folders, they will appear beneath the folders and indented slightly to the right, exactly like this:
  16. Right click both of the default "New Video or Audio" items and select "Delete".
  17. The content tree should now look like this, with two videos in the "Fiction" folder/category, and one video in the "Space" folder/category:
  18. Now we're ready to generate the feed for your new Roku channel.

    From the menu along the left side of the page, select Channels.

    Locate the row containing the channel that was just created.

    1. Click the Feed icon in the new channel's row.
    2. Click the Confirm Feed Refresh button.
    3. After the feed has has been generated or refreshed, a link for the Feed Url is displayed. Copy this link and save it somewhere on your computer, for example in a text document. You will need to enter this link into your Roku Developer Account at a later step.
    4. As part of the feed generation/refresh process, a summary message about your new feed is automatically sent to the email address associated with your Instant TV Channel account.

    The Feed Url points to a Feed File that contains all of the details just entered about the videos in your new Roku channel. The Feed File will be read by Roku's servers and used to create your new Direct Publisher channel. If you make any changes to your channel, you will need to refresh your Feed by clicking the Feed icon again.

    The Feed URL is only usable by Roku's servers, it cannot be downloaded.

  19. Before setting up your new channel in your Roku Developer Account, you'll need to have several pieces of artwork. Sample "Instant TV Channel" artwork is provided here, but feel free to substitute your own. The artwork height and width must be exactly the sizes specified below, otherwise an error message may be generated and your channel may not be created or updated.

    For most browsers you should be able to right click on each of the links below, and select "Save Link As..." to save each image file to your computer.

    1. Use the following link to download a sample 540x405 Channel Store Poster and save it to your computer:

      http://ex.irchan.com/samples/channel-store-demo-540x405.jpg
    2. Use the following link to download a sample 400x90 Channel Logo and save it to your computer. This logo has a transparent background:

      http://ex.irchan.com/samples/logo_400x90.png
    3. Use the following link to download a sample 1920x1080 Splash Screen and save it to your computer:

      http://ex.irchan.com/samples/splash_1920x1080.jpg
    4. Use the following link to download a sample 165x60 Small Logo for Roku Search and save it to your computer. This logo has a transparent background:

      http://ex.irchan.com/samples/search_165x60.png
  20. Now we will configure your new channel in your Roku Developer Account.

    1. Log into your Roku Account at http://my.roku.com
    2. Click the large purple Welcome (Your Name) box and then select Developer site.


    Select the "Developer site" option.
    1. Under "My Channels", click the Manage My Channels link to advance to the "Manage Channel" page.


    Select "Manage My Channels".
    1. Click the Add Channel button.


    Click the "Add Channels" button.
    1. Select the Direct Publisher option.

      (The Developer SDK option can also be used with Instant TV Channel, and is covered in a different walk-through.)

      Enter your channel's name into the grey box.

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Properties" page.


    Select the "Direct Publisher" option and enter your channel's name.
    1. Select all of the Channel Store regions for which you have the rights to distribute your channel's content.


    Select the Channel Store regions.
    1. Select whether or not your channel is directed at children. Roku uses this information to determine whether or not to collect Nielsen information and what type of advertisements to run.

      Select the appropriate "Parental Hint" for your channel. The "Parental Hint" is provided along with your channel's other information in the on-screen Channel Store.


    Select the parental options.
    1. Enter a Vanity Access Code. This is usually one or two words, with no spaces, that identifies your channel. After your channel is published, this code can be used to install your channel from the Roku website instead of using the on-screen Channel Store.

      For most channels any remaining settings on this page should be unchanged.

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Feed URL" page.


    Enter a "Vanity Access Code".
    1. Enter the Feed URL that you previously saved from Instant TV Channel into the Feed URL textbox.

      Do not change the Video Format

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Branding" page.


    Feed URL
    1. On the Branding page, click Add a logo and then locate and select the sample Channel Logo that you previously saved. If you are using your own Channel Logo instead of the sample, it must be a PNG or JPG image that is exactly 400 pixels wide and 90 pixels high.

      Click Add a splash screen and then locate and select the sample Splash Screen that you previously saved. If you are using your own Splash Screen instead of the sample, it must be a PNG or JPG image that is exactly 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high.

      Click Add search button and then locate and select the sample Small Logo for Roku Search that you previously saved. If you are using your own Search Logo instead of the sample, it must be a PNG or JPG image that is exactly 165 pixels wide and 60 pixels high.

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Categories" page.


    Provide the branding artwork.
    1. No changes are necessary on the "Categories" page.

      The "From feed" option uses each category that we added to the feed ("Space" and "Fiction") as a row in the Direct Publisher grid.

      After you have completed this walk-through you may wish to come back to this step and select the "Custom" option. The "Custom" option allows you to specify the categories (grid rows) directly on this page and ignores the categories in the feed. Individual content items are assigned to each category based on the DirectPublishTags parameters that you provided in Instant TV Channel.

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Channel Store Info" page.


    Categories are defined in the feed.
    1. On the Channel Store Info page, provide a Description, and Web Description. You can also change the channel Title here if you would like.

      Click Add a poster and then locate and select the sample Channel Store poster that you previously saved. If you are using your own poster instead of the sample, it must be a PNG or JPG image that is exactly 540 pixels wide and 405 pixels high.

      Select a "Preferred Category" for each Channel Store geographic region shown. This is the on-screen Channel Store category in which your channel will appear, if it is submitted and approved as a public channel.

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Monetization" page.


    Provide Channel Store information and poster.

    If your Roku Developer Account is not enrolled in Roku Billing Services then the "Monetization" page will not be available, and the "Screenshots" page will be displayed next.
    1. Do not make any changes here, leave "No" selected and just click the Continue button to advance to the "Screenshots" page.

      Later on you can return to this page if you would like to set up monetization for your channel.

      Initiating the monetization process usually involves a delay while Roku approves your application. This may delay publication of your channel.


    No Monetization
    1. Screenshots are usually frame-grabs from channel's videos. The screenshots will appear in the on-screen Channel Store or in the web-based Channel Store if the channel is submitted to Roku and approved.

      For now, since this is a demonstration channel, screenshots are not necessary. If needed, you can come back to this page later in order to provide screenshots.

      Click the Continue button to advance to the "Support Information" page.

    2. Provide the requested contact information on "Support Information" page.

      1. The "Preferred URL for more information" and "End User Support Contact" may be provided by Roku to viewers who ask for technical support.
      2. The "Administrative Contact" and "Technical Contact" information is for Roku's internal use only, it will not be provided to viewers.
      3. The "Test Accounts" section should remain blank.

      After providing all of the requested information, click the Continue button to advance to the "Preview and Publish" page.

    1. DO NOT click the "Publish" button! Because this is a demonstration channel, it should not be submitted to Roku for Channel Store approval. The "Publish" button is only used when submitting a channel to Roku for approval for inclusion in the on-screen Channel Store. This process usually takes several days or longer.

      Verify that there is a checkmark next to each item in the checklist at the bottom of the page. If there are any red exclamation marks visible, click the link next to the exclamation mark in order to correct the error.

      You may wish to save the "Device Preview" link. It can be used with any other Roku account in order to install the new channel.

      Click the "Device Preview" link to advance to the "Add Channel" page.

    2. Click the "Yes, add channel" button to confirm that the new channel should be added to your regular (non-developer) Roku account and installed onto your Roku device.

      If a "you must have at least one device" or similar error message appears at this point, it means that you do not have any Roku devices associated with this Roku account.

      Log out, and re-login using the Roku account in which you registered your Roku device, then use the "Device Preview" link to add your demonstration channel.
  21. Your new channel is now in your Roku account and will be installed onto your Roku device in 24 hours or less. To force your Roku device to install your channel immediately you must do a System Update. Using your Roku remote control:

    1. Press the remote control HOME key.
    2. Use the remote control UP and DOWN keys and the OK key to select Settings from the on-screen menu.
    3. Select System from the on-screen menu.
    4. Select System update from the on-screen menu.
    5. Select Check now from the on-screen menu.
    6. You should see a brief message flash on the screen about installing your new channel.
    7. Press the remote control HOME key again.

    If your new channel installed successfully, it will be located directly above the dividing line in your Roku home-screen channel list.

    Selecting your channel will bring up the splash screen first, then it will display the Direct Publisher grid screen.

    That's it! You've created a Direct Publisher Roku channel!


Demonstration Direct Publisher Roku Channel

"Free" and "Unlimited" Direct Publisher channels will contain an advertisement for Instant TV Channel in the top row of the on-screen grid. When the channel is upgraded to the "Commercial" channel type the advertisement is removed after you regenerate the feed file. You can refresh the feed on the "Feed Status" page in your Roku Developer Account in order to see any changes immediately.



The Instant TV Channel Help Library contains some Direct Publisher Tips that you may find useful.

Also see the Roku tutorial on Direct Publishing at https://developer.roku.com/publish/channel-tutorial.

Email comments & questions about this Roku developer guide to .

Instant TV Channel is a cloud-based tool for Roku developers and content providers that shortens development time and eases maintenance after deployment.



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