Roku is announcing at CES today a significant milestone both in the amount of content and the number of devices that are compatible with its USB-sized streaming stick. The company now has more than 700 channels of content its subscribers can choose from, as well as 14 device manufacturers making TVs that users can hook the streaming stick into. With more to watch and more device to watch it on, Roku is hoping that 2013 ends up being a breakout year for its streaming video devices.
At the top of its list of new channels is Time Warner Cable, which will bring up to 300 live streaming channels to Roku devices. The new channel will allow Time Warner cable subscribers to log in using their cable credentials and begin streaming live TV in their homes. While Time Warner Cable has made apps like this available on the iPad, iPhones, and through Web browsers, this will be the first time that a connected TV device will have the cable distributor’s programming. Despite previous announcements with CE manufacturers like Samsung and Sony at previous CES events, Time Warner Cable will land on Roku first.
In addition to the Time Warner Cable app, new channels include subscription streaming video site Blockbuster On Demand, international video provider Dailymotion, new foreign language programming from DISHWorld, broadcast TV content from FOX Now, public broadcaster PBS and PBS Kids, cable network Syfy, and top music video channel VEVO. For music fans, there are channels like Amazon’s Cloud Player, iHeartRadio, and Spotify, which was rolled out late last month. It also includes casual games like Big Fish Unlimited, Danger Derby, and Family Solitaire.
Content players aren’t the only ones turning to Roku: Consumer electronics manufacturers are also making TVs and other devices that can leverage its technology for streaming video and playing games. Roku is announcing six new consumer electronics partners that are making devices which are “Roku ready” — that is, which can connect with its new streaming stick to access video content. New partners include Coby Electronics Corp, Harman Kardon, Hisense Electric, TCL Corp, Voxx Accessories, and Westinghouse Digital.
Roku announced the streaming stick at CES last year, as a way for CE manufacturers to make their dumb TVs smart. The product contains a processor, memory, software, and built-in WiFi, and leverages Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) technology to work.
Roku has benefitted from the lack of truly “smart” TVs out there, instead leaning on its existing content network as an alternative to traditional cable services. The pitch Roku gives to manufacturers is that, by connecting to its streaming stick, they won’t have to invest in their own connected TV platforms, but can rely instead on the infrastructure it’s built and content providers on its platform.
That’s a strategy that appears to be working, at least for now. With the six new partners, it will have 14 in total that are “Roku ready.” That’s not mentioning the several million streaming set-top boxes that it’s sold.
Roku is a consumer electronics firm which specializes in home digital media products. They’re best known for creating the first set-top streaming box for Netflix. The company was founded by ReplayTV founder Anthony Wood. “Roku” means “six” in Japanese, a reference to the six companies Wood has launched.