Roku: 10 Million Sold; Most Popular Streaming Device

Roku announced today that it has sold 10 million of its set-top boxes in the United States, claiming itself as “the most popular choice among streaming players”. Launched in May 2008, Roku caught the rising tide of OTT market and has been standing strong against a tsunami of formidable competitors, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast. Seeking to expand its revenue stream, Roku has even teamed up with manufacturers to produce TV sets with built-in Roku service.

What the Living Room Revolution Means to Brands

Download the whitepaper “OTT: What The Living Room Revolution Means to Brands”

Television has been the core medium for the advertising industry for decades. While other media such as web and mobile-based content have eaten into its share of audience attention, it still offers brands the widest reach. Moreover, the audience’s desire to relax on the couch with their families and be entertained by a big HD screen is a unique desirable experience that newer mediums can’t replace.

What is beginning to change, however, is the underlying structure of Television. The idea that TV shows are arranged in linear numbered channels is no longer a technical requirement. A generation is rising that is less receptive to the concepts of expensive bundles, traditional interruptive ad breaks, and being locked into accessing certain content on some screens but not others.

In an on-demand, de-bundled, cord-cut world, the big question is “What now for marketers?”

In this paper we attempt to lay out the current landscape, the promising technologies that are budding, and the exciting future possibilities that lie ahead.

Download the whitepaper “OTT: What The Living Room Revolution Means to Brands”

Finally! Roku-Powered TVs Hit The Market

Back in January, we reported from CES 2014 that OTT set box company Roku is teaming up with manufacturers like TCL and Hisense to produce TV sets with built-in Roku service. And now, these models of Roku-powered TVs are finally ready for orders. With support for over 1,500 OTT content channels such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon Videos, this new breed of TV set could render cable set-top boxes unnecessary and, given time, obsolete.

Amazon Announces Set-Top Box

The long-awaited Amazon set-top box was announced today. Called the Fire TV, it is immediately available to purchase for $99, and comes packed with many different features. From a basic stand point, it’s a streaming set top box. With apps like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and NBA, the device will have many of the ways to stream content that users have wanted for some time. As expected, Amazon’s products have taken center stage, as Amazon Instant Video was pushed hard over all the other apps. To take advantage of the online streaming, though, Amazon has also included something called X-Ray, which is part second-screen device and part control system, much like Xbox’s Smartglass. Where it differs, though, is in the fact that X-Ray pulls in content from the Internet – for instance, if you’re watching a movie it will show data from IMDB. As well, Amazon’s ASAP feature predicts which episodes you’ll want to watch based on your history, and automatically adds them to a queue. There’s also a voice search integrated into the remote, looking to compete directly with things like Apple’s Siri.

But it’s more than just a TV streaming device. There are also games: Amazon announced a suite of games that it has developed in house, with an additional controller available for $39.99. The games, however, are designed to be cheap, priced at $1.85 per game. Competition for the living room is fierce, and is only heating up. Whether Amazon gets people to purchase its device at a lower price – for the gaming, the streaming, or both – will be a key indication that it lower prices in the field could undercut the wider living room device industry at large. Either way you slice it, though, Amazon’s foray into the living room means that companies like Roku and Plex need to look over their shoulders.


Roku Cross-Platform Streaming Stick Drops To $50

In late 2012, Roku announced its first Streaming Stick. Priced at $99, it only worked with Roku-Ready TV’s. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sell very well, with limited use-cases and few ways for consumers to connect with the device. For the 2014 release, however, Roku made sure to develop a much improved product. It works via standard HDMI, and it comes pre-packaged with a remote. For a $50 price point, it’s $15 more expensive than Google’s Chromecast, but practically speaking it’s nestled in the same range. For that extra $15 you get many more content sources: PBS, Showtime, and over 1,000 niche programming channels have partnered with Roku. The Stick also ships with Roku’s proprietary apps, and from a design perspective, it shifts the universal search function to the forefront of the user experience. This April, cordcutters have yet another way to distance themselves from traditional cable packages, and Roku is making the shift easier and easier. 

CES 2014: Roku Partners With Hisense & TCL To Introduce Roku TVs

Set-top box company Roku took a big step forward at CES: they’ll start to manufacture TVs themselves with Hisence and TCL. The TVs themselves will range in size from 32 inches to 55 inches, and will all be wi-fi compatible. The typical TV will be simple: just a 20 button remote, with mobile device access thanks to the wi-fi and bluetooth. It’s also good news for partners Time Warner and Sky, who can push the Roku in place of their proprietary boxes and encourage viewers to stream their channels through the Roku TV.

The move is an acknowledgement that in the very near future, consumers won’t want to put boxes on top of their TVs, and would rather access internet and app-based content through the first screen itself. While gaming consoles certainly justify additional hardware, entertainment enthusiasts may be moving towards embedded technology within TVs.

Roku 3 Adds YouTube Channel

As an addition to its already impressive stable of video services, Roku has finally added the grandaddy of all online video streaming services, YouTube, to its latest Roku 3 hardware.  The update is only available for users in US, UK, Canada, and Ireland, but it shows that Roku is keeping pace with competitors like Apple TV and gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox.  Still, Roku maintains a lead in the space for having over 750 “channels” of content including Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo, and Pandora, among others.

Roku Adds Live Disney and ESPN Content

As Americans begin to abandon cable TV providers in favor of streaming services, and those streaming services being to gain a foothold in the living room environment, content providers are aiming to distribute to the widest variety of services possible. Set-top box manufacturer Roku added new live broadcast programming to its selection in the form of WatchESPN and WatchDisney channels.  These networks are available widely to tens of millions of digital cable subscribers, and represent an effort on the part of content providers to accommodate varying user tastes to ensure they aren’t left behind by rapid developments in how people choose to consume media.

Roku Gets Update Ahead Of Apple TV Refresh

Roku, quite astutely, made its move to get ahead of the anticipated October Apple TV refresh by announcing a new product line with three streaming devices at solid price points. In March, Roku debuted the Roku 3, which was the post powerful streaming player to date, at $99.99. In October, though, Roku will sell updated versions of the Roku LT, and new Roku 1 and Roku 2 players; the LT will run for $49.99 and feature 720p HD, the 1 will be $10 more for 1080p HD, and the 2 will be $79.99 for 1080p and dual-band Wi-Fi with a remote, instead of the standard Wi-Fi. One of the Roku’s most popular features – the Wi-Fi remote – only works with the Roku 2 and 3; the Roku line will also soon feature the DIAl standard, which will allow users to use the Roku like they would the Chromecast. Along with an improved UI, these updates make the Roku one of the best options for cord-cutters, and may yet give Apple TV a serious run for its money.    

Livestream Brings Videos To Roku

Livestream debuted a new app for Roku’s streaming devices that will allow viewers to watch Livestream events and archived on-demand videos from their TVs. The new app is Livestream’s first attempt to bring live channels to a connected TV device, and it turns out that the company was waiting on the ability to stream mostly HD content. Now that that threshold has been crossed, the streaming service decided that it wants to make a transition from a channel-based program to an event-based display, where all events that are happening at present are displayed front and center. In addition to this selection of live events, users can scroll through archived shows and games to get on demand streams. By allowing Roku to handle distribution to their audience of millions, Livestream’s content – which includes over 60 local news stations, along with live streams from The New York Times, The AP, Warner Bros. Records, and more – will expand its reach drastically into the cord-cutting space.