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It will be just like your Roku set-top box, only in TV form
CES has kicked off in Las Vegas this week, and already we’re getting some big news in the world of smart TVs: Roku will now join the fray. The company announced late Sunday that it will begin producing smart TVs in addition to its Web-streaming set-top box.
Like the set-top box, Roku TV will have access to more than 1,200 channels and 31,000 movies, while also giving users the option of watching regular cable or playing video games. It will also come with a simplified remote control featuring just 20 buttons—half the number of buttons typically found on a regular remote. But of course, if you lose the remote somewhere in the depths of your couch cushions (as I do routinely, which is why I own like, four remotes), you will still be able to navigate your Roku TV with your iOS or Android device.
Roku is partnering with TCL and Hisense to manufacture the smart TVs. Together, TCL and Hisense accounted for 9% of the total global TV market in 2012, selling 21 million TVs altogether.
A company spokesperson says that the prices will be released by the manufacturers prior to launch. The TVs, which will come in sizes ranging from 32- to 55 inches, will be available this fall.
Roku just raised a $60 million round last May from Fidelity, BSkyB, News Corp., and Hearst Ventures. The company has sold nearly eight million Roku set-top boxes to date and says that total streaming hours grew 70% in 2013 to 1.7 billion hours.
The news from Roku comes at the same time as H&M’s announcement that its Super Bowl ad will allow users to actually purchase David Beckam’s outfit via their Samsung smart TV. The ad—a 30-second commercial for Beckam’s spring Bodywear collection—will utilize a “t-commerce” platform provided by Delivery Agent.
It will be interesting to see how Roku squares off against smart TV competitors like Samsung and (one day) Apple. Currently, its competitors in the world of streaming set-top boxes are Microsoft (Xbox), Nintendo (Wii), Blu Ray, Sony (PlayStation), and Google (Chromecast).
And word has it that Netflix—a Roku investor—is in talks with pay-TV providers like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and AT&T to bring a Netflix app to their set-top boxes. If that pans out, it likely won’t dull Roku’s luster, since it works with a bevy of other Web TV services.
“With streaming on TV more popular than ever and terminology like ‘binging’ and ‘marathoning’ now mainstream verbs that have nothing to do with eating or running – it’s a great time to be a TV lover and it’s a great time for Roku,” wrote Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood, in a blog post.
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