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.”

Roku, Walmart Launch Smart TVs in Mexico

Walmart and Roku Dec. 23 announced the launch of the new Atvio Roku TV lineup of smart TVs, exclusively available in Walmart stores in Mexico.

Atvio Roku TVs will offer consumers a smart TV experience that is easy to use so they can enjoy streaming entertainment at an affordable price. Atvio Roku TV models will be available in the upcoming weeks and will include a 32-inch HD screen, and a 50 and 55-inch UHD screen, starting at $179 (3,499 pesos). Executives from both companies said the partnership underscores years of attempting to meld Internet access with low-cost televisions.

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“We’re thrilled to bring Roku’s leading operating system to our Atvio smart TVs in Mexico this holiday season so our customers can enjoy the best entertainment that is easy to use and at an incredible value,” Jesús Enrique Guzman Güereca, VP of Walmart Mexico, said in a statement.

The new Atvio Roku TV lineup includes: 32-inch to 55-inch screens, HD, built-in wireless, USB, 3x HDMI, antenna input, AV input, S/PDIF. Additional features include putting all entertainment options (streaming, cable/satellite, antenna) onto one personalized home screen. Roku TV offers a streaming line-up with more than 100,000 movies & TV episodes across thousands of free and paid streaming channels, such as the Apple TV app, Cinépolis KLIC, Claro Video, HBO Go and Netflix.

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Roku Search: Fast and easy search across top channels offers results ranked by price.

Over-the-air HDTV: Connect an HD antenna for easy access to live over-the-air programming. Pause, rewind, or fast forward live TV for up to 90 minutes (requires 16GB USB stick).

Roku Remote: An easy to use remote control with channel shortcut buttons.

Free Roku mobile app: Control the TV using the virtual remote and keyboard, enjoy private listening with headphones, and more.


Roku CFO to Step Down

Roku Dec. 16 announced that CFO Steve Louden plans to step down after helping the company hire his successor.

Louden joined Roku as CFO in 2015 and “played an important role in establishing Roku as a fast-growing public company,” according to a company press release.

“He intends to return home to the Seattle area with his family after assisting with a smooth transition,” according to the release.

“Steve has been a valuable member of our leadership team. He managed our finances through our transition to a public company and rapid expansion into new areas of streaming,” said Anthony Wood, Roku founder and CEO, in a statement. “I look forward to working with Steve during the transition as we hire our next CFO and continue to execute our strategy and build value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

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“I’m very proud of Roku’s accomplishments,” Louden said in a statement. “Given the company’s strong financial position and exciting growth plans and my desire to relocate with my family back to Seattle, this is the right time for me to help Roku bring on a new financial leader.”

Roku Selling 1 Million Shares to Raise Working Capital; Stock Tumbles

Roku, in a Nov. 19 regulatory disclosure, said it would issue upwards of 1 million shares of Class A common stock — priced at $132.92 per share — to generate working capital.

Prior to the offering, Roku had more than 117 million shares of Class A and Class B common stock outstanding at the end of the most-recent fiscal period.

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The Los Gatos, Calif.-based subscription streaming media co-founder (with Netflix) said it would use the net proceeds from the sale of the shares for working capital and general corporate purposes, including sales and marketing activities, research and development activities, general and administrative matters, repayment of debt, other business opportunities, and capital expenditures.

“We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire or invest in businesses, products and technologies that are complementary to our own, although we have no current commitments or agreements with respect to any acquisitions or investments as of the date of this prospectus supplement,” Roku said in the filing.

The company said would also consider investing the stock sale proceeds in investment grade, short-term interest-bearing obligations, such as money-market funds, certificates of deposit, or direct or guaranteed obligations of the United States government, or hold the net proceeds as cash.

The news sent Roku shares down nearly 5% in midday trading.

Disney+ Ranked 4th Most-Popular Streaming Service on Roku; Still Trails Netflix

After a week of operation, the Disney+ subscription streaming service is ranked as the fourth-most-popular platform on Roku, behind No. 1 Netflix, YouTube and Hulu.

With more than 10 million sign-ups in its first day of operation, in addition to free access (for one year) to Verizon mobile consumers, Disney+ hardly lacked exposure.

The $6.99 platform ranked ahead of Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum TV Plus, Sling TV and YouTube TV. It also surpassed The Roku Channel in ninth spot.

The news underscored Disney’s massive media push surrounding its foray into over-the-top video distribution while also signaling Netflix ($8.99) ongoing resilience as the streaming service to beat.

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Yet, Netflix isn’t going anywhere, especially when it comes to buzz.

Netflix’s most-popular original series, “Stranger Things”, remained atop Parrot Analytics weekly “demand” chart, besting Disney’s heavily-hyped Star Wars spin-off original streaming series, “The Mandalorian.”

Roku, Walmart Partner for Black Friday Deals

Roku Nov. 14 announced a limited-edition onn Roku TV and $18 Roku SE player to be sold exclusively at Walmart for Black Friday on Nov. 29.

The promotion coincides with offerings of a $29.99 Roku Streaming Stick+, $49.99 Roku Ultra and $149.99 Roku Smart Soundbar price specials at retailers nationwide.

The subscription streaming media co-pioneer is also including $65 worth of Hulu and Pandora home entertainment with the purchase of a new device.

For the first time, the onn Roku TV will be sold exclusively in-store at the nation’s largest retailer. The unit will be available in three sizes, including FHD 40-inch ($98), 4K 50-inch ($148) and 4K 58-inch ($198) models.

The promotion starts on at 10 p.m. ET on Nov. 27 and in stores 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28.

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The onn Roku TVs include a simple home screen with easy-to-click icons for game consoles, HDTV antennas, and access to 500,000-plus movies and TV episodes across thousands of paid and free channels, plus The Roku Channel curated with thousands of free movies and TV shows.

TVs include Roku remote and free mobile app, automatic software updates, including new streaming channels over time, UHD viewing, three HDMI ports, two USB ports, 60 Hz refresh rate, and compatibility with third-party voice assistant devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assist.

Roku App Now Live on Apple Watch

Last month Roku announced the Apple TV app was available on the Roku platform. Now the Roku app is now available on the Apple Watch.

To access the new functionality, Apple users must update the Roku app to version 6.1.3 via their iPhone, and the app will appear on Apple Watch.

The app on Apple Watch features a remote feature to control the Roku device directly from Apple Watch through a circular crown on the watch.

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Apple users can switch channels on their TV with a tap of the watch screen. Channels are listed in order of most recently launched.

Simply tap the voice icon in the app and say commands like “Launch Hulu,” “search for comedies,” “switch to HDMI 1” for your Roku TV, and much more.

Use the Roku app for Apple Watch to signal your Roku remote and it will play an audible chime so you can find it in the couch cushions. Available on the Roku Ultra and select Roku TV models.

Roku Ups Loss, Stock Tumbles

Roku, which co-created the subscription streaming video market with Netflix, Nov. 6 reported a third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) net loss of $25.1 million, widened 164% from a net loss of $9.5 million during the previous-year period.

The company attributed the red ink to increased spending on marketing aimed at attracting user/subscribers.

Revenue increased more than 50% to $261 million from $173.4 million last year. Notable drivers included platform revenue, which increased 79% to $179.3 million compared to $100.1 million last year.

Platform revenue includes The Roku Channel featuring ad-supported programming.

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Roku said active accounts increased by more than 1.7 million to 32.3 million, while streaming hours increased 0.9 billion hours to 10.3 billion. Average revenue per user (ARPU) reached $22.58, up 30% year-over-year. Roku’s monetized video ad impressions more than doubled from the previous-year period. Player revenue increased 11% to $81.6 million from $73.3 million last year.

“We continue to execute well against our long-term strategic plan as the TV market shifts to streaming,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood and CFO Steve Louden wrote in the shareholder letter.

The executives said Roku’s “business momentum” makes the platform an essential partner for content publishers and advertisers.

“This is evident in the launch of major new streaming services on our platform and by the growth in the number of advertisers who work with Roku,” they wrote.

“We expect platform revenue to represent roughly two-thirds of total revenue including approximately $13 million in revenue from Dataxu,” Wood and Louden wrote.

The company also revised its fiscal 2019 outlook downward, reflecting continued investment in the business as well as an approximate $5 million hit to Q4 pre-tax earnings related to Dataxu-acquisition-related expenses.

Last month,Roku acquired Boston-based Dataxu, an online video ad platform for $150 million in cash and stock.

Wall Street wasn’t impressed, sending Roku shares down more than 14% in after-market trading.

Streaming Video Becoming New Normal, Especially for NFL Fans

The time people spent streaming video continues to climb — up 53% in the quarter (ended Sept. 30) as consumers embrace on-demand videos (63% of all streaming viewing is on demand) on their TVs, PCs and mobile devices, according to new data from Conviva.

“Streaming is quickly becoming the new normal,” Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, said in a statement. “This is an industry undergoing massive growth, and what happens in the next 18 months will shape what, how and when we watch content in the future.”

Report data was primarily collected from Conviva’s proprietary sensor technology currently embedded in three billion streaming video applications, measuring in excess of a 100 billion streams per year and a trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries.

Conviva attributed the increase in streaming video consumption due in part to reduced video start failures (down 10%), 6% faster start times, 33% less buffering and the picture quality (bitrate) is 3% better.

PCs saw the most consistent quality improvements year over year with 17% fewer video start failures, 23% faster video start times and 26% less buffering. Mobile saw big improvements in reducing buffering — down 34% year over year — but video start times were only down 4% and video start failures were down only 2%.

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Meanwhile, improvements in overall video quality did not extend to streaming ads. According to the data, 39.6% of all streaming ad attempts failed in the quarter. In addition, ads were plagued by delays including long start times and buffering including instances where it took up to 16.1 seconds for an ad to start and viewers had to endure up to 45.9% of ad buffering.

As a result, roughly 9% to 20% of viewers drop off each time an ad is run. For sports, the largest impact is at the very first ad where 18% of viewers drop, but subsequent ads have less effect.

The fourth ad in a stream triggers the biggest drop as 20% of news viewers, 17% of drama/comedy viewers, and 16% of reality TV viewers stop watching. Overall, 54% of the audience stopped viewing after four ads.

NFL Streaming Skyrockets

NFL viewers continued their mass migration to streaming, with a 77% increase in streaming plays and a 50% increase in time spent streaming compared with Q3 2018. Much of the NFL’s streaming growth occurred on mobile devices, which grew 109% in plays year over year, and TV, which grew 66%. Notably, NFL streaming plays on PCs went down 11% in Q3.

While mobile NFL viewing is up, the minutes per play remains small (8 minutes), inferring that fans are streaming NFL on their phones to check in on their favorite teams versus to watch games in their entirety. Those fans streaming the NFL via TV or PC watched for an average of 24 and 22 minutes, respectively.

NFL fans are also embracing streaming videos on social media, but their appetite varies by team and platform.

Miami Dolphins fans watch more of their franchise’s videos than any other team on Facebook (168% above average) closely followed by Kansas City Chiefs fans (157% above average). New York Giants fans would rather watch videos posted by their franchise on YouTube (211% above average) and New England Patriots fans are loyal to watching team videos on Instagram (227% above average).

The connected TV category once again led all other devices in growth, up 58% in viewing hours year over year compared to PCs (up 36%) and mobile (up 33%).

While Roku maintained the top position by ending the quarter with solid 44% of market share, its growth rate for viewing time (73%) was slightly lower than Amazon Fire TV (78%). Amazon Fire TV closed the quarter with 20% of market share, followed by Apple TV with 9%.

Roku also improved its quality over the past year and now delivers the lowest rate of video start failures at 0.18%, down 52% from the previous-year 2018, and nearly three times as much improvement as Amazon Fire TV which dropped 17% to 0.37%.

Xbox again has the least buffering at a mere 0.15%, while Apple TV is the most improved with buffering down 40%. Once again Apple TV has the fastest video start time at 2.6 seconds and highest picture quality at 6.8 Mbps on average.

Year-over-year comparisons were normalized at the customer level for accurate representations of industry growth. The advertising data included in the report is based on an analysis of nearly 10 billion ad attempts in Q3. The social media data included in the report is based on an analysis of more than 100,000 social posts and 2.5 billion social video views across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.


Roku Buys Online Ad Platform Dataxu for $150 Million

Roku on Oct. 22 announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Boston-based Dataxu, an online platform enabling marketers to plan and buy video ad campaigns, for $150 million in cash and stock.

The acquisition has been approved by each company’s board of directors and is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Advertisers today spend more than $70 billion dollars on traditional TV. According to Magna Global, OTT accounts for 29% of TV viewing but so far has only captured 3% of TV ad budgets. As viewers continue to migrate to streaming, automated media buying solutions are expected to unlock more advertising investment into OTT.

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Roku streams more ad-supported hours than any other OTT platform, according to a June 2019 comScore analysis. With more than 30.5 million active accounts, Roku ranks among Ad Age‘s Top 200 marketers.

The acquisition will enable Roku to provide marketers a single, data-driven software solution to plan, buy, and optimize their ad spend across TV and OTT providers.

“TV advertising is shifting toward OTT and a data-driven model focused on business outcomes for brands,” Anthony Wood, CEO at Roku, said in a statement. “The acquisition … will accelerate our ad platform, while also helping our content partners monetize their inventory even more effectively.”

In Forrester’s New Wave: Cross-Channel Video Advertising Platforms 2019 report, dataxu recently received highest scores for its current offering in cross-channel video advertising.