Roku TV expands outside the US

Readers outside the US may not be that familiar with Roku, but it is one of the originators of, and, in the US, the largest brand for, external streaming devices. Fighting it out in the same market space with Amazon’s Fire TV products, Chromecast, Android TV boxes such as Nvidia Shield and, of course, Apple TV, Roku is widely regarded as the “Switzerland of streamers”. With no allegiance or ties to program services or content, as most of their competitors do, other than Apple-proprietary content, if you want a streaming service, Roku is often the easiest way to find it.

Capitalising on a simple user interface that is frequently updated to revise apps and include new ones, Roku has become popular not only as an external device, but also as the main OS/UI that drives over 10 brands of “Roku TVs”. I’ve been using a Roku TV model from TCL as the office TV for a few months, and the superb integration of off-air, external sources and streaming services in one UI makes it easy to select from an incredibly wide range of sources and content. Indeed, as I write this, an app on the Roku TCL is enabling me to watch the fun of Brexit contortions a continent away in Los Angeles.

The idea clearly works, as there are over 100 Roku TV models in the US and over a third of the “Smart TV” sets sold in the US in the first half of 2019 were Roku TV models. If the concept of a quality TV set with a broad, but tightly integrated, range of sources is appealing to those outside the US, it seems that Roku agrees.

Today at IFA, Roku announced the forthcoming availability of the first Roku TV available outside the US. Starting in the fourth quarter, Hisense will launch Roku TVs in the UK in a wide range of sizes with 4K, HDR and, of course, access to literally thousands of streaming channel and tight integration with location specific off-air channels.

At the same time as their first ex-US Roku TV announcement, the company is also looking to partner with other UK and EMEA brands. If the success of Roku TV in the US is any indication, one expects that we may soon see not only other TV brands. Even better, perhaps when the universe of TV brands and models proliferates, you might possibly see the innovative Roku Wireless Speakers and Roku Smart Soundbar outside the US, as well.

This announcement, combined with Amazon’s announcement of more “Fire TV Edition” brands and models during ITA, points to what will be another interesting choice for Smart TV in the broader UK and EMEA marketplace.

Heiss is a technology consultant and journalist, CEDIA Fellow, CEDIA ESC 2 Certified, and US correspondent for HiddenWires magazine. You can contact Michael via the HiddenWires LinkedIn Group, follow him on Twitter @captnvid, or comment on his article, below.

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