TCL Roku TV Models Coming to U.K.

TCL Electronics and Roku are launching TCL Roku TV models in the United Kingdom.

TCL Roku TV models will be available in both HD and 4K UHD resolution, in sizes ranging from 32 inches to 65 inches.

The TVs will be available online at Currys.co.uk. Those who register interest now will get a discount voucher code.

Both the 4K UHD (RP620K) and HD (RS520K) models support HDR Pro which uses Dynamic Color Enhancement through 3D LUT technology to deliver vivid colors for all signal types, including HDR10, HLG and SDR. Both series also feature Freeview Play and an integrated Freeview tuner.

For movie and streaming content, the RP620K series supports Dolby Vision.

“I am thrilled to be launching TCL Roku TVs in the U.K.,” Bernie Chen, TCL’s U.K. country manager, said in a statement. “The combination of our affordable premium TVs with Roku’s operating system offers consumers excellent picture quality and ease of use, alongside a huge variety of features and streaming channels. I am confident that this partnership will help us maintain our strong U.K. sales growth and increase our market share.”

TCL Roku TV models come with Roku’s operating system built-in, offering consumers automatic updates, a customizable home screen, thousands of free and paid streaming channels and advanced features such as search across top channels with results ranked by price, and private listening through the free Roku mobile app. Viewers can control TCL Roku TV models by using voice with Alexa or Google Assistant enabled devices. With Apple AirPlay 2, they can stream, control and share content directly from iPhone, iPad or Mac. TCL Roku TV models also support HomeKit, which allows users to control Roku devices using Siri or the Home app on their Apple devices.

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“TCL was one of the first TV brands to embrace the Roku OS and together we have created numerous award-winning TVs with great picture quality and ease of use,” said Arthur van Rest, VP, international, at Roku, in a statement. “TCL Roku TV models are powered by the Roku OS offering consumers simplicity, choice and incredible value. The Roku OS offers consumers an always current smart TV experience, it is not without reason that the Roku OS is the No. 1 selling smart TV OS in the U.S. and Canada.”

Popular U.K. streaming services available on TCL Roku TVs include Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV+, NOW, BT Sport, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5. TCL Roku TVs also carry The Roku Channel, offering more than 25,000 free movies and TV episodes to British consumers. This includes the recently launched Roku Originals.

Roku TVs Going to Brazil via Philco Brand

A year after launching its branded streaming media devices in Brazil, Roku Jan. 14 announced a new partnership with television brand Philco that will bring Roku TV models to consumers to the South American  country.

The new units will be available in four screen sizes, including 32-inch, 42-inch, 50-inch and 58-inch models, featuring Dolby Audio, integrated wired and wireless connectivity. The 50-inch 4K Ultra HD is already available for purchase online at a recommended retail price of R$ 3,399 ($642).

The TVs will run the latest Roku operating system, offering an intuitive home screen and access to 100,000 movies and TV episodes via thousands of free or paid app channels, including Netflix, Disney+, Globoplay, Telecine, Prime Video and HBO.

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“Since we entered the market a year ago, we’ve been pleased with the growth of the Roku brand in Brazil, and now, by partnering with Philco, we will be able to expand our product portfolio with 4K streaming … at an affordable price,” Arthur van Rest, VP of International at Roku, said in a statement.

The Philco brand (which started in 1919) first brought the TV to Brazil in the 1950’s and since then has been innovating with new model launches and becoming a reference in technology. In North America, the Philco brand is owned by Philips. In other markets, the Philco International brand is owned by Electrolux.

“We are living in a moment where the TV has returned to the center of entertainment within the home,” said Cristiane Clausen, executive director of Philco. “Our focus is to provide a cinematographic experience with our new TVs through powerful sound and high definition imagery.”

Other Philco Roku TV features include:

  • Simplicity: A simpler smart TV experience that displays all the entertainment options (streaming, cable/satellite, antenna) on one personalized home screen.
  • Roku Search: It’s easy to discover something great to watch. Simply search by title or actor to find shows and movies to watch across top channels.
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR10): 4K Roku TV models support HDR10 content, making colors brighter and richer, particularly in vibrant scenes like landscapes and cityscapes.
  • Roku Remote: A simple remote to navigate TV and streaming channels along with channel shortcut buttons.
  • Free Roku mobile app: Control the TV via the mobile remote or keyboard, enjoy private listening with headphones, available on both Android and iOS.
  • Automatic Software updates: Receive new streaming channels and features automatically without lifting a finger.

 

The 4K 50-inch and 58-inch Philco Roku TV models also offer Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support. Through AirPlay, Roku customers can stream, control and share their favorite content directly from their iPhone, iPad or Mac to their supported Roku device. HomeKit allows customers to easily and securely control their Roku device with their voice using the Home app and Siri on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or HomePod.

 

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.”

AVOD: Quiet Before the Storm

With the crush of new subscription streaming VOD services entering 2020, new data from Ampere Analysis suggests ad-supported VOD, or AVOD, will build scale and roll-out internationally this year.

While AVOD use within the United States remains small compared to SVOD (from 3% to 6% of domestic online households), London-based Ampere believes this to be merely the quiet before the storm.

Major AVOD players include Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle, Vudu, IMDb TV, Roku TV, Xumo TV, Shout! Factory TV and pending Peacock from NBC Universal, which will also be SVOD, among others.

Specifically, the researcher contends AVOD is filling the niche previously targeted by SVOD: catalog content. As SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu migrate toward original programming, AVOD streams older content for free — with advertising.

The proportion of Netflix’s catalog more than five years old fell from 50% in Sept. 2015 to 35% in Sept. 2019 — a trend that will continue across the sector. In the meantime, the long tail of older content has been embraced by the new AVOD services, who average nearly 80% of their catalog at five years old by title count, and in the case of Crackle, 70% of content is over 10 years old.

This demand for older content not only provides a new market for licensing deep archive, but also offers a boon for distributors and sales agents, according to Ampere.

“AVOD is coming, and it’s going to make its mark on the VOD landscape rapidly,” Guy Bisson, director at Ampere, said in a statement. “Its impact will be felt not just by the entertainment industry, but by advertising too as the shift that has already disrupted the subscription television market sweeps across the free-to-air sector.”

As advertisers rush to support AVOD, online video advertising will inevitably increase as the platforms spread globally in 2020. To date this form of advertising has remained relatively small — even in developed markets like the U.S. where 27.2% of online ad spend is on video, and in Canada where it’s just 5.85%.

Ampere expects the rush to AVOD to be supercharged by some of the studio direct models such as Disney’s Hulu and Peacock, which are expected to adopt a hybrid SVOD/AVOD model.

“AVOD services are treading a well-trodden path with an early reliance on older content, but as their market position grows, we can expect them to begin acquiring newer content and even moving into original production activity as they battle for eyeballs in an increasingly crowded market,” Bisson said.

‘Kids & Family’ Service Added to the Roku Channel

Roku has announced the addition of the “Kids & Family” service on the Roku Channel, making it easy for children and parents to find a selection of tailored content available for free and through premium subscriptions, according to the company.

In addition, Roku is rolling out parental control features for the Roku Channel.

“We recognize that it can be a challenge to find quality kids and family entertainment across multiple streaming channels, particularly free, ad-supported options,” said Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement, Roku, in a statement. “’Kids & Family’ not only provides a selection of great free, ad-supported content from partners like pocket.watch with ‘Ryan’s World’ and Lionsgate’s ‘Leapfrog,’ but also highlights kids’ entertainment from existing premium subscriptions partners. Parents looking to find great programming for their children will enjoy the ease of going to the Roku Channel as their one place for kids and family entertainment.”

“Kids & Family” delivers a blend of shows, movies, and live linear and short-form video typically found across multiple free and paid kids’ channels and brings them together to watch in a single place, according to a Roku release. In addition to free, ad-supported options, users who have already subscribed to premium subscriptions through the Roku Channel will be able to view subscription-based kids and family content from partners such as Hopster, Noggin and Zoomoo, as well as children’s entertainment from services such as HBO and Starz, directly within “Kids & Family.”

Roku’s in-house editorial team created the “Kids & Family” experience to feature series, movies and entertainment for kids, according to the release. It offers 7,000 free, ad-supported movies and TV episodes from more than 20 partners such as All Spark, A Hasbro Company, DHX Media, Happy Kids TV, Lionsgate, Mattel, Moonbug, and pocket.watch, among others. Programming includes  shows such as “Care Bears,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Leapfrog,” “Little Baby Bum,” “My Little Pony,” “Rev & Roll,” “Super Mario Brothers” and “Thomas & Friends”; live/linear streams featuring 24/7 kids programming available from Moonbug, pocket.watch and partners powered by Xumo, including Ameba, BatteryPop and KidGenius; five exclusive episodes of 22-minute series “Ryan’s World” by pocket.watch available directly on the Roku Channel for the first time; and premium subscriptions from Blue Ant Media’s ZooMoo, CONtv, Dove Channel, HBO, Hopster, Noggin, Starz or Up Faith and Family through the Roku Channel, featuring such series as “Bubble Guppies,” “Dora the Explorer,” “PAW Patrol,” “Peppa Pig” and movies including Adventures of Elmo in Groucholand and Muppets Take Manhattan.

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“There is a tremendous opportunity to expand our reach with the quickly growing audience on the Roku Channel,” said Chris M. Williams, founder and CEO, pocket.watch, in a statement. “Family time is often enjoyed in the living room where Roku is so successful and we’re thrilled to bring our biggest creator partners, like Ryan from ‘Ryan’s World,’ into the heart of the home through the new pocket.watch channel.”

Kids & Family” will have approximately 40% of the advertising time of traditional linear television, according to Roku. Lego Systems has signed on as the first advertising sponsor of the service.

“Roku offers a custom experience that will help us connect with our kid and family audiences, who are consuming content on an evolving array of platforms,” said Michael McNally, senior director at the Lego Group, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be the exclusive sponsorship partner in ‘Kids & Family’ on The Roku Channel.”

PIN-based playback controls to the Roku Channel help parents set access limits to content based on ratings within the Roku Channel. If the setting is enabled, a PIN will be required in order to view videos on the Roku Channel based on the content rating.

“Kids & Family” is now available to users of the Roku Channel in the United States and will be available on Roku devices, via the Web and on select Samsung smart TVs that access the Roku Channel.

Roku Devices Link With Amazon Alexa

Roku streaming player and Roku TV owners in the United States can now control their Roku devices using Amazon’s Alexa, Roku announced.

“Consumers often have multiple voice ecosystems in their homes. By allowing our customers to choose Alexa, in addition to Roku voice search and controls, and other popular voice assistants; we are strengthening the value Roku offers as a neutral platform in home entertainment,” said Ilya Asnis, SVP of Roku OS at Roku, in a statement. “Roku customers can get to the entertainment they love faster so they can enjoy more of it.”

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Roku users with Alexa-enabled devices — including Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Plus — can pause a show, launch a streaming channel and search for entertainment with such voice commands as, “Alexa, find comedies on Roku,” “Alexa, pause Roku” or “Alexa, open Hulu on Roku,” according to the Roku press release. Additionally, Roku TV users can turn on the TV, change the volume, mute the TV, switch inputs and change channels if there is an OTA antenna connected by saying, “Alexa, turn on Roku” or “Alexa, turn up the volume on Roku.”

Customers can control Roku devices running Roku OS 8.1 or greater using their Alexa-enabled devices. To access the feature, customers open the Alexa app, go to settings and select “TV & Video,” enable the Roku skill, and link their account.

The Roku OS offers access to 500,000-plus movies and TV episodes via thousands of free or paid channels, according to the release.

Report: Sonos and Roku in Talks to Integrate Technologies

Sonos and Roku are in talks to integrate Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant software into Sonos’ audio devices, according to a report from CNET citing an anonymous source.

The integration would allow voice commands to be sent to a Roku device, such as a Roku TV, via a Sonos speaker.

“The discussions are in the early stages,” the source told CNET.

Sonos spokeswoman Laura Morarity told CNET the company “won’t speculate on any potential future partnerships,” adding “that said, Sonos is committed to bringing the voice services our customers want to our platform. So naturally, we’re open to having discussions with any number of companies crafting innovative voice experiences.”

Roku Bows New 4K Players, Operating System Upgrades

Roku Sept. 24 announced it is expanding its streaming player lineup with the addition of two new devices – the new Roku Premiere and the new Roku Premiere+.

The Roku Premiere ($39.99) and Roku Premiere+ ($49.99) offer streaming video in HD, 4K Ultra HD or 4K HDR. The company also announced updates to its ultimate streaming player, the Roku Ultra, which now features premium JBL headphones and priced at $99.99.

“Tens of millions of 4K TVs will be sold this year; we’re seeing more content, even live sports, produced and streamed in 4K and HDR as each week goes by,” Lloyd Klarke, director of product management at Roku, said in a statement.

Roku Premiere features immersive picture quality in HD, 4K Ultra HD and 4K HDR, quad-core processor and low-profile form factor. It includes an HDMI cable, remote control with channel shortcut buttons, Dolby and DTS Digital Surround pass through over HDMI.

Premiere+ includes everything the Premiere offers plus a voice-activated remote with TV power & volume buttons.

Roku Ultra features the lost remote finder that can be set to play popular tones, including ESPN “SportsCenter” or HBO’s “Game of Thrones” theme song beginning in November.

The Roku Premiere is available for pre-order at Roku.com and, along with the Roku Ultra, will be available at all major retailers beginning in early October. The Roku Premiere+ will be available exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.com in early October.

Separately, Roku announced a software update for Roku TVs that enables new features for compatibility with upcoming Roku TV Wireless Speakers; and Roku OS 9, a new software release with a variety of enhancements to give users new ways to search and control their entertainment experience.

Roku will soon enable the ability to use Google Assistant devices to control Roku streaming devices. In addition, premium music services Spotify and Pandora Premium support are coming to Roku devices.

“As we broaden the Roku ecosystem, we are in a unique position,” said Ilya Asnis, SVP of Roku OS at Roku. “Our single operating system running across Roku TVs and Roku TV Wireless Speakers give us the ability to innovate how consumers experience audio and entertainment in their homes.”

Roku Introduces Roku TV Wireless Speakers

Streaming device pioneer Roku July 16 unveiled the Roku TV wireless speakers, the first speakers made exclusively for Roku TV.

The speakers are “meticulously engineered and calibrated to deliver powerful, premium audio to Roku TVs,” according to a Roku press release.

“Because Roku controls the software in both the speakers and TV, Roku is uniquely able to provide seamless wireless setup and connectivity, optimize sound for the picture and ensure audio video sync,” the release stated.

Roku TV users can pre-order from Roku.com through July 23 for an introductory price of $149.99. From July 24 through Oct. 15, it’s $179.99. Beginning Oct. 16, pricing is $199.99. The speaker bundle begins shipping to customers by late October. The bundle includes two Roku TV wireless speakers, a Roku TV voice remote, a Roku touch tabletop remote, two Power Cables and four AAA batteries.

“Picture quality, a tremendous selection of content, value, and ease of use make Roku TVs some of the most popular smart TVs on the market today,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in a statement. “Adding great audio dramatically enhances the way people experience their favorite entertainment. With Roku TV wireless speakers, we’re able to offer our customers a simple and affordable way to further immerse themselves into the TV, movies and music they love, while providing them with a better whole home entertainment experience.”

The speakers can be wirelessly paired to Roku TVs via Roku Connect, according to the release. Once paired, users can listen to audio from any streaming channel on the Roku platform, live TV from an antenna, or other devices such as a cable set-top box through the speakers. The speakers support Bluetooth music streaming from mobile devices. The speakers also offer automatic volume leveling to lower the volume on loud scenes and boost the volume on quieter ones and dialog enhancement to improve the intelligibility of speech.

Roku TV wireless speakers work exclusively with Roku TVs, which accounted for one out of every four smart TVs sold in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018, according to the company.

Roku Celebrates 10 Years of TV Streaming with Free Content and Discounts

In celebration of 10 years of TV streaming, Roku May 14 announced it has unlocked free content for Roku customers and is offering discounts on select streaming players.

“The celebration falls just ahead of National Streaming Day on May 20, which encourages people to stream entertainment and recognizes the massive change in the TV industry,” according to a Roku press release. “This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first Roku player, the first ever device to stream Netflix to the TV.”

“For 10 years, Roku has facilitated the massive shift in the way people watch TV and we’re extremely proud of the contribution we’re making to streaming entertainment,” said Matthew Anderson, chief marketing officer, Roku, in a statement. “We can think of no better way to thank our base of nearly 21 million avid streamers than to offer free hit entertainment in partnership with some of the biggest and best TV networks like Shotime, Fox, EPIX, Smithsonian Earth and more.”

Content from select channel partners is available for free in the Roku Channel through May 20, including premiere seasons of the Showtime series “Billions,” “Ray Donovan” and “The Affair”the first season of EPIX’s dark comedy “Get Shorty”; episodes of hits from Fox, such as “The Four: Battle for Stardom,”Beat Shazam” hosted by Jamie Foxx; and “Love Connection” hosted by Andy Cohen; as well as nature and wildlife documentaries from Smithsonian Earth.

Consumers can also save on several Roku streaming players in the United States. For a limited time, customers can get $10 off the Roku Streaming Stick ($49.99) and the Roku Ultra ($99.99), as well as $15 off the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($69.99). The offers are available at major retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.com, and at Roku.com through May 26.

“Roku pioneered streaming to the television with the launch of the Netflix player in 2008. Since then, the company has transformed how consumers enjoy TV, how content providers reach their TV audiences and how brands reach TV audiences,” read the release. “As of the end of the first quarter of 2018, Roku had nearly 21 million active accounts, and during that first quarter alone, Roku users streamed 5+ billion hours.”