Roku CEO on future: Smaller, cheaper, more content

roku ceo on future smaller cheaper more contentWith entertainment technology following the general trend of moving towards sole device singularity, it’s worth wondering what Roku – maker of the Roku Box streaming player that connects your television to all manner of Internet-streaming entertainment, such as Netflix, Hulu and other similar services – is planning to do to keep itself from being replaced with Internet-ready televisions or gaming systems that offer everything Roku can and more. Well, according to Steve Shannon, the general manager of content and services at the company, the answer is undercut the opposition and search for ways to diversify the Roku offerings.

Speaking at this year’s 40th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Shannon told his audience that the low price of Roku Boxes is an important element of the success of the brand at this point; with prices ranging from $49.99 to $99.99 depending on the model (There are five Roku Boxes available currently), Shannon said, “our product is becoming a stocking stuffer.” Illustrating the point, he explained “During Black Friday, we averaged a sale of a new player every two seconds. Millions of players were sold [on that one day]. Our CEO [Anthony Wood] says that, next year, the goal is to sell one every second.”

That goal might be helped by the introducing of a sixth Roku model, described as a streaming “stick” that connects to the HDMI slot of televisions to allow Internet media to be streamed directly to the set. According to Shannon, Roku is already working with television manufacturers to bundle the stick with certain television models to enable a cheaper way of making them “Internet ready” in future. Another potential set of future partners mentioned during the presentation, Shannon revealed, are cable companies; saying that Roku doesn’t consider itself a competitor to traditional cable providers (Although he couldn’t help but point out that – with five million Roku households in the US – the company would rank ahead of Time Warner Cable if it was measured as a cable provider), he called cable companies “prospective partners” and openly imagined a world where Roku might broker a deal that would see Roku boxes bundled in with cable packages to increase the company’s penetration into the market.

Addressing the idea that Roku may be replaced by alternate multi-purpose devices that also offer Internet streaming to televisions (such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360), Shannon suggested that people will likely continue to use those devices for their primary purpose and look elsewhere for streaming connections. This may be borne out by the numbers; Roku’s customer base jumped by five times between 2011 and 2012, despite the availability of both Internet-enabled television sets, Xbox 360s and other streaming devices such as Apple’s Apple TV.

If all of that doesn’t work, however, Roku has one more string to its bow that Shannon mentioned in passing: “We’re also investing heavily on the content services side,” he said. Roku may not become a competitor for cable providers, but if it starts working on its own content, could it become a surprise competitor for Netflix…?

Home Theater

Amazon discounts the Roku Premiere, allowing you to stream 4K HDR for $30

You can now get a Roku Premiere streaming device for just a dollar more than the base model Roku model, allowing you to add 4K HDR streaming quality to your TV for cheaper than ever.
Home Theater

Everything to know about Sling TV: Channels, pricing, and more

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Home Theater

Spotify adds artist-blocking feature, despite its denials

Though it continues to claim you can't do it, there is plenty of evidence that Spotify added an artist-blocking feature to its platform, making it easy for users to never hear a specific musician or band.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in February 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for February 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming…
Features

Netflix’s rate hike is a good thing. Wait, wait, hear us out

Upset at Netflix for raising its rates? We don't blame you. Nobody likes to pay more for anything -- even if they love that thing. But you really should be thanking the streaming entertainment giant. The hike in prices is a necessary and…
Deals

Save up to $100 on the Sonos Beam, Sub, and Playbar before game day

With the big game less than two weeks off, now is the perfect time to upgrade your home theater. Whether you're hosting a party or kicking back by yourself, Sonos is offering nice deals right now on a few of its top-rated audio devices…
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

Don't need sports or local channels? Philo can save you some dough

Philo is a super-affordable live TV streaming service, with an impressive channel list and feature set. With more hardware support and greatly improved TV Everywhere features, the service is now even easier to recommend.
Home Theater

How to wall mount a TV: Tips and tricks to cut down on frustration

This how-to guide includes a video on how to wall mount a TV, along with other tips and tricks about the process. Step by step, we'll take you through what you have to do to successfully get your TV on your wall.
Home Theater

Google’s Super Bowl surprise: YouTube TV is going nationwide

Just in time for the big game, Google has announced that it is expanding its YouTube TV live-streaming service from 100 of the biggest U.S. markets to cover 98 percent of American households.
Home Theater

Hulu drops price for entry-level users, hikes price of live TV tier

Hulu lowered prices on its most basic ad-based tier by $2 per month, but has simultaneously raised the cost for those who subscribe to its live TV streaming tier, matching moves by the other major streaming companies.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what’s leaving in February 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for February 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.