Roku Fights Back With New Streaming Devices

The day after its stock fell double digits following Comcast’s announcement of a new streaming video device, Roku Sept. 19 unveiled a new streaming player lineup for the U.S and other markets.

Roku is also expanding its streaming player lineup internationally in Canada, the U.K., the Republic of Ireland and select countries in Latin America.

The Roku Express+ will be available in September with the Roku Express available in October.

New versions of the Roku Express (MSRP $29.99) offer HD streaming in a new form factor, and the Roku Ultra (MSRP $99.99), features fast channel launch and a remote with personal shortcut buttons designed to get to content quickly.

Five additional streaming players round out the lineup in the U.S and will be available broadly in the coming weeks. In addition, Roku also announced a new operating system — Roku OS 9.2.

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“We’re driven by the goal of delivering an exceptional streaming experience to our customers that includes endless entertainment and intuitive ways to find it,” said Mark Ely, VP, players and whole home product management, at Roku. “Our new streaming player lineup continues to offer a device for every type of streamer. Whether you’re streaming to your TV for the first time or are a cord-cutting power-house who wants our ultimate streaming device — we’ve got something for everyone.”

Roku Express is 10% smaller than its predecessor and is designed to blend in when connected to a TV. It can be fully powered by most televisions if an outlet is not nearby, reducing clutter. Additional Roku Express features and accessories include:

  • Easy and smooth HD streaming
  • Simple remote featuring channel shortcut buttons
  • High-Speed HDMI Cable
  • Power adaptor

The Roku Ultra remains the ultimate streaming player delivering HD, 4K & HDR picture quality. With an enhanced quad-core processor and 802.11ac dual-band wireless, Roku Ultra is feature-packed for power streamers and cord-cutters.

The new fast channel launch feature get users to entertainment faster, improving channel launch times for the top channels across the Roku platform. Additionally, new programmable personal shortcut buttons on the Enhanced Roku Voice Remote offer personalization and one-touch control of entertainment.

More Roku Ultra features and accessories include:

  • 4K resolution for ultra-sharp picture quality
  • HDR for rich, more true-to-life imagery
  • Both Ethernet 10/100 and 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless
  • USB port for local media playback and MicroSD slot for channel caching
  • Dolby and DTS Digital Surround pass through over HDMI
  • Lost remote finder
  • Enhanced voice remote with personal shortcut buttons, a headphone jack for private listening and buttons for TV power, volume, and mute
  • Premium JBL headphones included for private listening

 

The Roku OS provides access to 500,000+ movies and TV episodes including live TV, news, sports, movies, popular shows and more. Unbiased search across top channels makes it easy to find entertainment for free or at the lowest cost.

There are hundreds of free channels, including The Roku Channel. Featured Free offers one-click-access to free entertainment including high-quality movies, shows and in-season network content from channels across our platform. The free Roku mobile app enables viewers to control their Roku device, use Roku Voice, Private Listening, stream The Roku Channel on the go and more.

  • Roku Express (MSRP $29.99) – Features an even smaller form factor and offers easy HD streaming
  • Roku Express+ (MSRP $39.99) – Features the new sleek form factor and a Roku Voice remote. Available exclusively at Walmart
  • Roku Premiere (MSRP $39.99) – Delivers easy 4K & HDR streaming with a simple remote
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ (MSRP $59.99) – Offers a powerful, portable HD, 4K and HDR streaming with the long-range wireless and a Roku Voice Remote with TV controls
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ HE (MSRP $59.99) – Available exclusively at Best Buy and includes the Enhanced Roku Voice Remote with a headphone jack and Roku headphones for Private Listening
  • Roku Ultra LT (MSRP $79.99) – A Walmart exclusive featuring HD, 4K and HDR streaming, ethernet, 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless, an Enhanced Roku Voice remote with TV controls and Roku headphones
  • Roku Ultra (MSRP $99.99) – Delivers brilliant HD, 4K & HDR picture quality and Roku’s best wireless and new features such as fast channel launch, personal shortcut and mute buttons, premium JBL Headphones and more

The Roku Express and Roku Ultra are available for pre-order at Roku.com today.

 

Amazon Reveals 34 Million Fire TV Users, Topping Roku

Amazon has quietly staked the lead in active users of streaming media devices. The ecommerce giant disclosed it has 34 million Fire TV users – about 5 million more than Roku.

Amazon revealed the data May 14 in a presentation by Jen Prenner, global head of marketing at Fire TV, at the Pay TV Show in Denver.

The tally, first reported by TechCrunch, represents a 13.3% increase from the 30 million users Amazon disclosed in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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Amazon now claims Fire TV has become the No. 1 streaming media device in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India and Japan.

Roku, by comparison, claims its operating system was embedded in 33% of all Internet-connected smart TVs sold in the U.S. in the first quarter.

Roku CEO: We Are the No. 1 Smart TV Operating System in the U.S.

Roku said 33% of all Internet-connected “smart” televisions sold domestically in the first quarter (ended March 31) featured its branded operating system. That’s up from 25% of all TVs sold in 2018.

“In less than five years, the Roku TV has gone from a disruptive idea to the market leader,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said on the fiscal call. “We have taken the leads from Samsung and are now the number one smart TV OS in the country.”

Anthony Wood

Wood attributed Roku’s transition from streaming media device manufacturer to ad-supported VOD distributor to ongoing consumer moves away from linear TV toward over-the-top video — and the CE industry’s sluggish efforts to develop “homegrown” software OS platforms in televisions.

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“We really think in almost all cases those [OS] solutions are probably uncompetitive and that we will just continue to see gains and share of licensed OS [platforms],” Wood said. “So there is a lot of room to grow. It’s a big opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Roku continues to drive an expanding AVOD market through its branded Roku channel. The AVOD market gained momentum following Viacom’s acquisition of Pluto TV, Comcast’s planned launch of AVOD distribution, Shout! Factory’s Shout TV, Sony Crackle and San Francisco-based Tubi, among others.

“We are excited about the increased investment and focus by major media companies on bringing free content over-the-top,” said Scott Rosenberg, GM, platform business. “When they do this, they ultimately accelerate the consumer move into OTT and expand the economic pie for all of us. We share in their success.”

Indeed, Roku said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million from 20.8 million last year. Consumer streaming hours increased 74% to 8.9 billion hours compared to 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

“The most exciting thing about the Viacom/Pluto tie-up is the fact that Viacom is taking content that was previously only available through pay-TV subscriptions and making it available free through AVOD services,” he said. “That not only will that drive viewing on the platform, I think it will also help accelerate the shift of ad dollars over to streaming.”