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Roku CEO says the DVR is doomed, all TV will be streamed in the future

Last week, Roku’s CEO Anthony Wood spoke with the Associated Press in a Q&A about where the television industry appears to be headed. Wood predicted that all TV will eventually be streamed, and went on to explain his perspectives on the current state of affairs in terms of hardware, streaming services, cord-cutting, and set-top boxes such as his own company’s devices. He stuck by his claim that the DVR would be dead by 2020.

The DVR, or “digital video recorder,” revolutionized television when TiVo and similar devices hit the market in the late 1990s, giving viewers the ability to record content for their own “time-shifted TV,” Simply put, the DVR’s most coveted capability, fast-forwarding through advertisements, was good news for viewers and bad news for advertisers. According to a study released by Nielsen earlier this year, the percentage of TV households that own DVRs has risen over the past five years. In 2009, 33 percent owned some form of DVR device. That figure rose to 42 percent in 2011 and reached a near-majority 49 percent in 2013. But over time, as TVs have gotten smarter alongside the advent of set-top boxes, the DVR’s usefulness has become less unique (news that advertisers have been eagerly awaiting). It’s no longer the sole, unrivaled method of consuming broadcast TV, and that’s not just because there are more hardware options out there – perhaps more importantly, there are more content and delivery options out there.

Thanks to Netflix, VUDU, HBO Go, Watch ESPN and cable/satellite VOD (video on demand) services, people can watch more of what they want to watch, and when they want to watch it. The classic pay-TV model no longer dominates. Enter the Roku, Wood’s answer to today’s broader, more fickle, and more demanding TV viewer. “I do believe people are watching more TV than ever and they have options,” Wood says. “You don’t just have to watch what’s on pay-TV or what’s on your DVR. The majority of our customers do have a pay-TV (cable or satellite) subscription, but a pretty good chunk doesn’t. More than 60 percent have pay-TV. About 35 percent don’t and they mostly just stream video.”

Wood doesn’t think the world will miss the DVR too much, especially now that set-top boxes and the like have become so adept at giving the user what they want. When asked whether the DVR’s inevitable demise makes him melancholy, Wood says, “No, it makes me excited. It’s just a much better world when you don’t have to worry about recording shows. DVRs are noisy, and they break, too.”

(Image courtesy of Re/Code)