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.”

Roku-Commissioned Study Finds OTT Ads More Effective

Video ads on the Roku OTT platform are 67 percent more effective per exposure at driving purchase intent than ads on broadcast and cable television, according to a study conducted by MAGNA, IPG Media Lab and Roku.

The study, “Under the Hood of Over-the-Top Measurement,” commissioned by Roku, tracked and measured ads from four brands — Applebee’s, H&M, McCormick and Truvia. The study used the Roku platform to identify households with exposure to linear TV and/or OTT ads. MAGNA surveyed a total of 4,621 consumers — both those exposed to the ads and an unexposed control group. The survey consisted of traditional brand metrics, such as ad recall, brand favorability and purchase intent.

The study also found that consumers consider brands that run video ads on the Roku platform to be twice as innovative as traditional linear TV alone. In addition, consumers found the ads to be more memorable than those on linear TV, due in part to fewer ads on OTT.

“It’s clear that OTT offers advertisers distinct advantages over traditional TV,” says Kara Manatt, SVP, intelligence, solutions and strategy, MAGNA Global. “Given that OTT needs fewer exposures to generate the impact that linear TV provides at higher exposure levels, brands can run campaigns on OTT that are both more efficient and effective.”

Other findings, according to the study: moving impressions to Roku from linear TV provides a 32 percent increase per exposure in perception that brand has a unique story to tell; Roku audience targeting spurs larger brand lift per exposure than linear television; and OTT ads require less exposure than linear TV.

“Consumers are shifting their TV time from linear to OTT, making it important for marketers to also shift their ad investments,” said Scott Rosenberg, Roku GM of platform business. “This study demonstrates that ads on Roku deliver not only incremental reach, but also higher ROI than linear TV ads.”

MAGNA is the centralized IPG Mediabrands resource that develops intelligence, investment and innovation strategies for agency teams and clients. Part of the Interpublic network, the IPG Media Lab identifies and researches innovations and trends that will change the media landscape and how brands engage with their audiences.

FilmRise’s Ad-Supported Roku Channel Adds Classic Carsey-Werner TV Shows

FilmRise has launched several classic Carsey-Werner TV shows on its ad-supported Roku streaming channel, including the “3rd Rock From the Sun.”

The FilmRise channel ranks at No. 15 among top free channels on the platform, according to a release from the company. The channel generates more than 300 million monthly ad impressions and reaches nearly 20 million users who can watch movies and TV on demand for free, according to the release.

FilmRise will soon launch ad-supported channels on Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Apple TV, and smart TVs such as Vizio, among other platforms, and is currently in development on iOS and Android for mobile viewing via worldwide apps.

Other Carsey-Werner sitcoms available on the Roku channel include “Cybill,” “Grace Under Fire” and “Grounded for Life.”

“FilmRise’s tremendous growth on Roku sheds light on the power of ad-supported free digital streaming,” said Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise. “By bringing our vast library of quality content to viewers who don’t wish to pay a transactional or subscription fee, we’ve unlocked the potential to reach new and diverse audiences who want to experience the best in film and TV — including timeless TV series and iconic movies.”

Roku Introduces New OTT Ad Measurement

Roku Jan. 17 announced a new service for over-the-top advertising measurement.

Ad Insights allows marketers to measure campaign reach and effectiveness across linear and OTT, and more accurately plan their OTT ad investments, according to Roku.

The insights are derived from Roku’s first party data as well as the linear and streaming viewership habits of millions of active accounts and billions of streaming hours, according to the company.

“With our rich first-party data, robust OS and relationships with our consumers we are in a unique position to continue to make meaningful advances in OTT measurement,” said Scott Rosenberg, GM of platform business at Roku. “Our investment in new measurement tools reflects our strong commitment to helping brands fully leverage the benefits of OTT advertising.”

The Roku Ad Insights Suite includes:

  • Reach Insights– Marketers can quantify unique campaign reach by demographic segments across linear TV, OTT, desktop and mobile.
  • Tune-In Insights– TV networks and content owners can measure the effectiveness of content promotions they run across linear TV, OTT, desktop and mobile.
  • Cord Cutter Insights– Marketers can target and measure campaigns delivered to Roku users who don’t have traditional pay TV subscriptions.
  • Survey Insights– Marketers can gather real-time feedback and demographic insights with short on-device surveys.

Previously, Roku announced it was the first OTT platform to integrate Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) and offer audience guarantees based on age and gender, the company noted. In addition to Nielsen, Roku collaborates with leading research providers such as Experian, Kantar Millward Brown, Oracle Data Cloud, Placed and others to provide transparent third-party measurement.

Roku Launching Home Entertainment Tech Licensing Program

Roku Jan. 3 unveiled a licensing program designed to entice third-party consumer electronics manufacturers to incorporate its technology in audio devices, including sound bars, speakers, multi-room audio systems and surround sound.

Dubbed Whole Home Entertainment Licensing Program, the campaign enables OEM brands to incorporate Roku Connect software as a home entertainment network.

Roku Connect devices can connect wirelessly and be controlled by voice commands and a single remote. In addition, OEM brands will be able to license smart sound bar and smart speaker hardware reference designs along with the Roku operating system, Roku OS.

Chinese TV manufacturer TCL is Roku’s first OEM partner and will announce its plans to offer the first device under the new program at its press conference at CES on Jan. 8. TCL manufactures Roku-branded TVs.

Roku also announced plans to launch a voice assistant, the Roku Entertainment Assistant, that is optimized for home entertainment.

Both technologies are expected to be rolled out as a free software update to the Roku operating system by this fall to most Roku TV models and Roku players.

“Consumers will love the benefits of a home entertainment network, such as having more affordable options, adding one device at a time, using their voice, having a simplified set up and Wi-Fi connectivity, and holding just one remote control,” Roku founder/CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement.

In other news, Roku and Funai Electric Jan. 3 announced that Funai will extend its Roku TV licensing agreement to include the Magnavox brand, in addition to the previously announced Philips brand.

The Magnavox Roku TVs will feature the Roku operating system and are expected to be available in select retailers in the United States this spring.

“Magnavox is a respected, 100-year-old American brand and remains an American-designed TV product line. With the launch of our Magnavox Roku TVs we bring the latest smart TV technology to this trusted brand,” said Peter Swinkels, GM, product planning, Funai Electric, in a statement. “The Roku OS delivers a wide breadth of content, simple navigation and search, an easy-to-use remote and regular software updates so we can offer a great TV experience to our customers.”

“Just a couple of months ago we announced our partnership with Funai to market Philips Roku TVs, and now we’re happy to bring the Magnavox TV brand into the Roku TV licensing program,” said Chas Smith, GM of Roku TV and players, in a statement. “Magnavox is recognized for its very long history of delivering quality and high-performance at a smart price, and will no doubt build a very compelling Roku TV for consumers.”

 

Roku Promotes Rosenberg to GM of Platform Business, Shannon to Leave Company

Streaming TV pioneer Roku Dec. 27 announced that Scott Rosenberg will become GM of platform business beginning in January 2018. Rosenberg has led Roku’s advertising business and will now also lead content distribution and related services.

Five-year Roku veteran and leader of content and services Steve Shannon will leave the company at the end of 2017.

Rosenberg joined Roku in late 2012 to develop and build the company’s advertising business. Under his leadership, Roku became the industry’s leading OTT advertising platform, according to the company. The leadership change combines the staff and resources of advertising, content distribution and related services, accelerating Roku’s ability to build innovative platform products, drive user engagement, and monetize active accounts, according to the company.

Shannon joined Roku in 2012 to lead the new content and services group and has been instrumental in establishing new industry relationships, building an exceptional content offering and growing distribution revenues for the Roku platform, according to the company.

“Steve joined Roku in the early days of our monetization strategy and was instrumental in developing key advertising, content and services initiatives as well as recruiting top talent like Scott,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “We are grateful for the contributions Steve made and wish him the very best as he moves on to his next great adventure.”

Roku connects users to streaming content, enables content publishers to build and monetize large audiences, and provides advertisers access to consumers. Roku streaming players and Roku TV models are available around the world through direct retail sales and licensing arrangements with TV OEMs and service operators. Roku is headquartered in Los Gatos, Calif.