Roku has been in the streaming business just about as long as there has been a streaming business. Don’t believe me? Consider this. Roku’s first product was designed to support Netflix and only Netflix. Why? Because there was no Hulu app yet, no Amazon Prime app or essentially anything else. Over the years it has evolved with the marketplace while also setting trends like remote finding beeps, private listening, and the simple TV remote. Roku is not a company looking to the past though. It is poised to be the dominant streaming platform, especially in the US for years to come. We explain why.
Why Roku Will Stay On Top
Constantly improving its OS
Roku has come a long way from its initial incarnation as the Roku Netflix Player. Yeah, if you didn’t know Roku launched as a product to stream the very early Netflix streaming option. It was one of the first products of its kind as was Netflix. Starting with the major overhaul that brought the familiar 3 by 3 channels grid to the platform and its first formal app store, Roku has been making behind-the-scenes and GUI improvements to the platform that have among other things provided blue tooth headphone support, added voice controls, built the most dynamic cross categorical search and more.
Embrace of Sports
Roku only recently rolled out its sports tab, but you can see how it’s going to be positioned as a major tool for its current and potential users. The integrated system allows users to find where many major sports events are taking place on TV and deep links the user directly to the source. It works more like a search feature in an app than it does a streaming platform. Users can even search for a specific team or school and find where they are playing. While it has some limitations due to lack of partnerships with a few major brands like ESPN, the move to provide a central space to find sports content without being in a given streaming app is pretty impressive. And Just wait till it grows its reach.
Roku’s last big remote upgrade was a significant one. It added a few major updates that separate it from the crowd. One is the ability to assign specific apps to one of two programmable buttons. This means that users can make their favorite apps that much easier to launch. Another innovation for the new remote is a near-field mic that allows users to use voice commands without pressing any other buttons. This includes turning off the TV, launching apps, playback controls, and even a command that makes the remote beep so you can find it if you have misplaced it. It is even rechargeable.
Integration of its Own Fast
Roku has its own entry into the world of free Ad-supported streaming, “The Roku Channel”. The Roku channel began as an additional free channel on Roku devices and has expanded to more places within the Roku ecosystem. It gives Roku a chance to make money by selling ads on content from providers/partners and even now its own original content. The Roku channel is also available as an app on many other streaming and smart TV platforms. It just further cements Roku in the minds of streaming fans.
Investments In The Roku Channel/Roku Channel Originals
With the Roku channel, the company was able to have a new revenue stream but it made a monumental move when it jumped into original content. The original content move started with the purchase of the content intended for the streaming service Quibi. But since then the company has become a producer as well. It has renewed some of the hits it inherited from Quibi and furthermore has even produced original movies such as a Christmas wrap-up to Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist titled Zoe’s Extraordinary Christmas and recently won raves for the Weird Al parody biopic “Weird”. Nobody is going to confuse Roku with HBO Max, but if it continues to move strategically it will garner a lot of positive PR and ad rev along the way.
It’s Got A Big Foothold In The US Smart TV Space
Roku has at least 11 TV manufacturing partners in the US running the Roku OS. You can find Roku’s familiar grid on everything from small 32-inch 720p TVs to humungous 8k screens. When Black Friday sales hit, you can almost always count on something with a Roku OS built-in to be a can’t-miss deal. Getting into that space means that many people buy into Roku’s ecosystem passively but then grow to prefer it.
Multiple Price points
Roku has this mentality of providing a model for every price point, to the point where there is very little price difference as you move up the scale from one to another. There always seems to be something on sale within their product line which includes 5 standalone streaming players starting at $29.99 and topping off at $99.99. But like we said you can often find even the most expensive product, the Roku Ultra on sale for $69.99. On top of that, Roku has two smart soundbars that include the OS built-in along with the ability to expand the audio profile with speakers and subwoofers.
Investment in audio technology
As mentioned in the section on price points, Roku has invested in building out the home theater experience, but not just that. It makes it really easy. Roku got into the game with the Roku Wireless Speakers. They pair up wirelessly with Roku players and Roku TVs. It then expanded its reach by releasing the Roku Sound Bar, later renamed the Streambar Pro and Subwoofer. A smaller sound bar “the Roku Streambar” made its way in and recently Roku released the Roku Wireless Bass a smaller budget sub. With the ability to put together a system including a soundbar, sub, and 4 speakers surround experience without the old headache of running wires Roku grabbed a piece of the market before anybody else began to look at it. The effect is that users can get the impression that they should just stick with Roku for their whole home theater experience without the need to experiment with anything else. But the truth is that Roku is not a walled garden. The company also has partnerships with multiple hardware manufacturers called “Roku Ready“. The partners include;
- Definitive Technology
Integration With Apple
Apple plays much better with others these days than it did at the start of the 2010s. It has gotten so far along with Roku that Roku players can handle Apple’s proprietary AirPlay and mirroring capabilities, which used to be limited to Apple TV streaming devices. This gives iOS users the ability to send apps to their Roku devices with full sound and Roku controller support to boot. It significantly expands what Roku users can stream because it makes every single website and app that is AirPlay capable a Roku app too.