Roku is an unquestioned leader in the streaming world. It was the first major streaming device on the market, it is the most common operating system on smart TVs in the US and can be found at any big box store that sells TV related tech. But it could be bigger and more influential if it could pull off a few major changes. Can it even do the things we are proposing? I’m not sure. But if it can it should. So check out our speculative piece and let us know what you think in the coments.
Work out support for Android phone streaming support
Roku figured out how to play nice with Apple a few years ago and began to offer not only the Apple TV+ app but the ability to use Apple’s AirPlay and mirroring capabilities. This is a handy way to get more content to the TV screen for anyone who has IOS-powered products. But aside from YouTube, there is no way to send android apps to Roku in the same way you can with Chromecast/Googlecast-ready products. With an Android TV for instance a user can launch almost any video on their phone or tablet and even share the full screen of a computer on the TV screen. You may not think about doing so much, but it solves a lot of problems that come up. Roku can’t support every single video app and site in the world but when you can stream from a phone it sure feels like it can. It may not be possible due to Roku’s Linux-based software. But it sure would be helpful.
Develop a cross-categorical programming grid, like Apple TV
Roku could do this. It already sort of does it with its hubs within the Roku search. Roku has all of the major free and paid streaming services but it does not have one place to go in order to find out what is available based on genre across those services. What are we talking about? Imagine you want to check out documentaries. Roku has numerous apps that feature them. But you have to look at each of them to see what is available. There is nowhere to see which documentaries are available on Amazon Video, Netflix and Hulu, and other services. The hubs sort of do it, but a dedicated section on the home screen would be far more user-friendly.
Develop a universal program grid that integrates its supported Fasts and Paid Services
This is something that Amazon Fire TV products do better than anything on the market. Amazon has a Live TV section with a program grid that allows users to build in almost every major 24-7 streaming app available on its platform. Users can add Pluto TV, Sling TV, Amazon Freevee, Xumo, Discovery+ channels, and many more into a grid that lets them navigate them like one big TV service. It also features a favorites section where users can line up the particular channels they want access to immediately. This means a user can have Showtime in a grid with Pluto TV’s Riff Tracks channel and a feed of a Discovery+ channel on the next line down. Think of the time that saves users. Roku already has the Roku channel live channel grid, so it has the architecture to pull it off. Again if Roku aims to be the definitive TV operating system putting an option like this together would help make it so.
Build Antenna support built into its streaming players
Roku has great antenna support built into its televisions. Users can even set an option to integrate Roku’s live channel guide with their locally available OTA stations. Roku could be the top cord-cutting tool in the world with antenna support. Especially if it had an antenna built in. That may be too big an ask based on hardware needs, but if users could attach an antenna to the boxes themselves, even if it were just their Roku Ultras and soundbars it would increase the usefulness of the products. Roku of course does not advertise itself as a tuner company and complications with them and customer expectations as to how an antenna works may be more trouble than it would be worth. Roku knows better than I do. But the antenna support built into Roku Powered TVs is wonderful and would be a welcome addition to the players in my household.
Expand Sports offering
Roku’s new sports tab, which displays the major sports events that are available to stream is a great new feature but it needs to expand its reach. It currently does not include support for the ESPN app thus preventing users from seeing offerings from ESPN+. It also does not display YouTube TV and Hulu as options for streaming services to watch events on channels in their lineups. These are not the only services left out of the equation. Again if Roku can make this feature as inclusive as their search capabilities it would make it the market leader and a cord cuttings sports fan’s best friend.