Roku has been the staple of streaming enthusiasts for going on five years now. In that time, they’ve managed to offer about 1,500 sources of streaming video t0 customers. You can even stream directly from many cable companies–whether just VOD content, a selection of channels, or in the case of Time Warner, their entire lineup–without the need for an external cable box. The majority of Roku’s business has been from people with regular TVs, but as the audience of dumb-TV owners without it shrinks, Roku is taking a more integrated approach by installing their technology right into TV sets. Roku TV was rolled out in sets from Hisense and TCL, both of whom are expanding their US presence.
These models are being dubbed as Smart TVs, and why not, considering Roku’s platform is inherently smart. Roku also takes control of the entire TV experience, from channel surfing to menus. Roku plans to license the platform and software stack to other manufacturers.
“Consumers will enjoy the ease and satisfaction of Roku TV while manufacturers leverage our design specifications, content relationships and software expertise. At the same time the content community will gain additional distribution and revenues through an already popular and trusted streaming platform – now in the TV,” said Roku Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wood.
The idea is that Roku TV is supposed to simplify the user experience, providing fewer buttons on the remote and the “layers” between you and your content that one might experience with another Smart TV. It makes sense, really. Instead of your Smart TV having Roku as an app, Roku is the smart TV.