Roku is rolling out its own brand of smart TVs, announcing the first models this week at CES.
The streaming device vendor is launching the Roku Select and Roku Plus Series HD and 4K TVs, which are the first to carry the Roku name. Roku smart TVs will be available in the U.S. in the spring of 2023 with 11 models ranging from 24” to 75” and prices starting as low as $119 and up to $999.
Roku is introducing smart TVs at a time when competition to own the video entertainment experience (and data that goes along with it) is intensifying, and as smart TV adoption is rising in the U.S. while streaming devices have plateaued, according to Parks Associates.
“Over the past 20 years, Roku has been instrumental in what is now the mainstream way to enjoy a great television series, a classic movie, or live sports,” said Mustafa Ozgen, president of Devices at Roku, in a statement. “Our goal is to continue to create an even better TV experience for everyone. These Roku-branded TVs will not only complement the current lineup of partner-branded Roku TV models, but also allow us to enable future smart TV innovations. The streaming revolution has only just begun.”
Roku HD model smart TVs will come with Roku Voice remotes, while Plus Series TVs will come with the pro version. They’ll also use a new Roku TV Wireless Soundbar for wire-free audio.
The company has already been licensing its OS through its Roku TV program, which launched in 2014, becoming one of the most popular in the U.S. as third-party OEMs use it to power smart TVs. In November, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said that out of the major smart TV platforms in the domestic market (including Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Apple TV), Roku is unique in that its operating system wasn’t designed for mobile phones or devices, but purpose built for streaming television.
Roku on Wednesday cited branded TVs as allowing it to “further innovation around the TV experience” – with all enhancements to be available to its current and future third-party TV OEM partners.
It also means Roku’s free ad-supported streaming TV service is set to get a wider reach as The Roku Channel will be featured on all models, along with live TV and a recently rolled out sports experience that aims to simplify finding sports content across services. Smart TV makers including leader Samsung, along with LG and Vizio also leverage FAST services via their smart TV interface, providing free content to users and generating additional revenue from advertising.
In the third quarter Roku saw revenue from sales of streaming sticks and pucks drop 7% year over year to $91 million, while platform revenue – including advertising on home screens and within The Roku Channel – increased 15% over the prior year quarter to $670.4 million.
And Roku’s low price point for smart TVs could attract price conscious consumers that may be more inclined to watch free ad-supported content.
In a recent column for Fierce, Parks Associates CMO Elizabeth Parks described how the smart TV has become the entertainment centerpiece of the home, with the expectation that households will increasingly prefer smart TVs to streaming sticks and dongles as prices lower and performance improves.
According to Parks, industry players should leverage platform owners’ distinct advantages in their ability to drive usage and subscription of services – and for Roku that includes affordability.
“Platform integration and alignment of user bases influence service usage and subscription,” wrote Parks. “Those using the Roku platform are more likely to access ad-supported services, aligning with the budget-based orientation of Roku's products and partners.”
Streaming device competitor Amazon already started building branded smart TVs in 2021.
In addition, Roku announced a premium OLED TV reference design that’s now available to its TV partners.