Walmart Bows Branded Streaming Media Devices

Walmart has begun marketing a pair of streaming media set-top devices that connect the television to the Internet. The world’s largest retailer launched the “Onn” brand several years ago as an in-house CE label whose OEM manufacturers span the industry.

The Onn Android TV UHD Streaming Device retails for $29.88, which is less than the $34.99 Roku Express 4K unit marketed exclusively by Walmart. The chain is also selling an Onn FHD Streaming Stick for $24.88.

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In 2019, Walmart and Roku announced a partnership to distribute an Onn Roku-branded sound bar and wireless subwoofer — manufactured by Roku. Walmart was one of the first retailers to offer Roku devices linking TVs to the Web more than 10 years ago.

Roku, together with Netflix, helped launch the subscription streaming VOD market in 2008 with a Netflix-branded streaming media device.

Roku Adds Surround-Sound to Branded Speakers

Roku Jan. 29 announced a software update that will enable surround sound expansion of its branded soundbars, making it easy for consumers to use Roku TV Wireless Speakers.

Walmart will also be expanding its “onn.” Roku surround system with the addition of Roku wireless surround speakers, expected on Walmart shelves and in February.

“We want to simplify home theater the same way we simplified streaming and we’re taking a big step towards that by expanding our Roku Smart Soundbars to support surround sound capabilities,” Mark Ely, VP of retail product strategy at Roku, said in a statement. “We want customers to be able to expand their system over time without having to spend a lot of money or run wires throughout the home.”

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Roku’s soundbar is marketed as a cost-effective two-in-one device that enhances sound and streaming video to a TV.

“Customers are responding well to our onn. brand,” said Ryan Peterson, VP of consumer electronics for Walmart. “Roku is known for their quality and affordability as well, and we’re looking forward to offering our customers a premium surround sound experience.”

The Roku Smart Soundbar claims premium sound quality with crisp dialogue and dynamic bass, easy-to-use 4K and HDR Roku streaming player built in, simple set up and a remote with TV power and volume buttons.

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Roku wireless surround speakers can be placed behind the sofa or in the back of a room to provide immersive multi-directional sound. In addition, stereo content will sound better when adding rear speakers.

Roku soundbars support Dolby Audio, which delivers enhanced surround sound experience when streaming content from compatible platforms such as Netflix, the Apple TV app and Disney+, among others.

Roku Surround Sound capability will be available as a Roku OS software update for all Roku Smart Soundbars and will begin rolling out to devices in February.

The onn Roku Wireless Surround Speakers will be available for $149 in Walmart stores and online at mid-February to pair to the onn Roku Smart Soundbar and onn Roku Wireless Subwoofer.


Roku Announces TV Brand Expansion, ‘Roku TV Ready’ Program

Roku announced that 15 TV brands will launch Roku TV models in Canada, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom in 2020.

Roku TV brands in 2020 include ATVIO, Element, Hisense, Hitachi, InFocus, JVC, Magnavox, onn., Philips, Polaroid, RCA, Sanyo, TCL and Westinghouse.

In Mexico, new partner brands InFocus, Polaroid and Walmart’s ATVIO will sell Roku TV models, while existing partner brand Westinghouse and others will extend their Roku TV offerings to Mexico. In addition, TCL and Hisense will expand their Roku TV offerings with new Roku TV models launching later in the year.

“2019 was a tremendous year for Roku TV, with more brands, retailers and consumers choosing the platform than ever before,” said Mustafa Ozgen, SVP and GM of account acquisition at Roku in a statement. “We believe that Roku TV represented more than one in three smart TVs sold in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2019, and the number of our licensees keeps growing.”

Roku also announced “Roku TV Ready,” a new program that allows consumer electronics companies to partner with Roku to help their products work seamlessly with Roku TV. The first partners under the program are TCL North America and Sound United, parent company to Denon, Polk Audio, Marantz, Definitive Technology and Classé, which will feature Roku TV Ready products for select brands later this year. Products under the program will display a Roku TV Ready badge on marketing materials to identify that they have been tested and certified to work with the Roku TV. Consumer electronics companies can add Roku TV Ready functionality at no additional cost to their products, according to Roku.

“Our goal is to make the TV experience incredibly simple, accessible and fun. Roku devices continue to delight millions of consumers for these reasons. And now with this new program we hope to make it super easy to setup and control soundbars and audio/video receivers using just a Roku TV remote,” said Mark Ely, VP, retail product strategy at Roku in a statement. “Meanwhile, consumer electronics brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

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“Denon is consistently at the forefront of technology trends and services. Our joining the Roku TV Ready program demonstrates a continued dedication to this ethos while offering consumers an incredible value, endless entertainment and new features delivered over time,” said Brendon Stead, SVP, product development at Sound United, parent company to Denon, in a statement. “The Roku TV Ready program enables Denon users to easily access Denon product features via the Roku TV Remote, among other features. In the name of seamless entertainment, this is a boon for watchers everywhere.”

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“TCL and Roku have been working to deliver incredible home entertainment innovation to consumers for many years and we’re thrilled to be extending our partnership to home audio compatibility,” said Chris Larson, SVP, TCL, in a statement. “As America’s fastest-growing TV brand, we’re focused on providing a first-class home theater experience and a big part of that is ensuring consumers know their TCL television will work well with other products throughout the home.”