Roku’s Streaming Stick Hooks Up With Hitachi, Mitsubishi, And Others To Make Dumb TVs Smart

Today a bunch of consumer electronics partners have announced support for Roku’s Streaming Stick, which will let them introduce streaming video services to users without a lot of upfront investment.

At CES this year Roku announced its new streaming stick, which is designed to let users quickly and easily make their dumb TV sets a little smarter. It’s basically the equivalent of a Roku 2 XS, but in a much smaller, self-contained form factor. Using built-in WiFi and Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) technology, the USB-sized Roku Streaming Stick will plug into a TV that doesn’t currently have connectivity and provide it with Roku-powered streaming video content. It’ll draw power from the TV and work with customers’ existing remote controls.

For CE manufacturers, that means that they won’t have to build smarts into the device, including adding high-power digital processors or memory to make streaming video services work. Roku’s new CE partners include a bunch of second- or third-tier TV brands, like Element Electronics, GlobalVue International, Haier, Hitachi America, Insignia, Mitsubishi Electric, Onkyo, Integra, OPPO, and TMAX Digital.

These aren’t the type of high-tech, cutting-edge manufacturers who have already begun rolling out their own connected TVs to market — and that’s the point. Rather than investing in building their own development platform or streaming video services, CE makers can leverage the Roku Streaming Stick to make streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, and others available to their customers. All they have to do is invest a handful of dollars to install the MHL port and ensure that their devices are compatible with the Roku stick.

Roku hasn’t released the Streaming Stick to the public, or announced pricing, but plans to do so over the coming weeks. CE makers who have partnered with Roku will also soon start rolling out TVs and other devices — like Blu-ray players and receivers — that come with a “Roku Ready” logo, signifying that Roku has tested them to ensure that they will work seamlessly right out of the box. Once the Streaming Stick is plugged in, they should instantly have access to hundreds of different channels available on the Roku platform.

Roku’s new Streaming Stick news comes just a few days after the company announced it received $45 million in funding from News Corp., BSkyB, and other investors. It plans to use the funding for international expansion, as well as a bigger marketing push behind its streaming video products.