Streaming video technology provider Roku has quietly been building a list of device manufacturers that are embedded its software into their TVs. The latest to be added are Best Buy, which will embed Roku streaming into its Insignia-brand TVs this spring, and Haier, which will begin selling Roku-powered streaming TVs later in the year.
Over the last few years, Roku has transitioned from being a hardware company selling streaming video boxes to a provider of software that can be embedded onto smart TVs from other consumer electronics manufacturers. While it has sold more than 10 million of its own devices, the company is betting on partners to help get much wider distribution that it could reach on its own.
For partners, Roku offers a software solution that gives them an easy way to add streaming video services on their connected TVs. It says users spend an average of 45 hours per month watching streaming TV from its devices, which means partners are able to offer a competitive feature set without having to invest heavily developing their own connected TV platforms.
Since announcing its embedded TV solution Roku has gained a number of partners, including TCL and Hisense, to power streaming video offerings on their connected TVs. Adding Haier and especially Best Buy as partners will help accelerate adoption among consumers looking to buy their first smart TVs.
While good for consumer electronics companies, having a single platform used by multiple device manufacturers means less development work on their end as well. Content providers who wish to reach the maximum number of users have had to develop apps for a variety of different connected TV platforms.
Roku has more than 2,000 different content channels to choose from through its streaming video platform. And now, with greater adoption of that platform by manufacturers, content companies will be able to reach potentially millions more viewers through their Roku channel.
In addition to the new device partners, Roku is announcing support for 4k video streaming. Its first partners in that effort will be Netflix, which began rolling out 4K support earlier this year. TCL, which was one of the earliest partners to embed Roku into its smart TVs, will be the first hardware maker to support Roku 4K streaming.
While the number of TVs and content producers that stream in 4K is limited today, it’s expected to grow rapidly over the coming years. Having a roadmap to support the technology could actually help accelerate adoption, especially as prices for 4K TVs fall over time.