In a move designed to establish more control of the home entertainment ecosystem, Roku has launched a program that forges a formal technical integration between Roku-powered smart TVs and a lineup of connected audio products, including soundbars and receivers, made by third-party suppliers.
Two CE companies -- Sound United (parent of Denon, Classé, Polk Audio, Marantz, Definitive Technology) and TV maker TCL North America -- are the first pair of partners to launch products under the Roku TV Ready program and expect to feature Roku TV Ready products for "select brands" later this year. Tested and certified Roku TV Ready products will be identified with this logo:
Roku, which launched the initiative at this week's CES event in Las Vegas, said the integration will ensure that third-party products will allow for easy setup and on-screen access to elements such as sound settings and volume control with smart TVs that run Roku's streaming platform.
TCL is expected to announce more details about its support for the Roku TV Ready platform later today. Early on, Sound United plans to deliver Roku TV Ready capabilities to Denon-branded soundbars via a software upgrade later this year.
Roku also announced that 15 TV brands will launch Roku-powered models in Canada, Mexico, the US and the UK in 2020. Those brands include Walmart's ATVIO, Element, Hisense, Hitachi, InFocus, JVC, Magnavox, onn., Philips, Polaroid, RCA, Sanyo, TCL and Westinghouse, with a final one yet to be identified. Meanwhile, a set of new partners -- InFocus, Polaroid and ATVIO -- plan to sell Roku TV models in Mexico this year, and Westinghouse, a legacy Roku TV partner, will expand its Roku TV offerings in Mexico during 2020.
Why this matters
Roku's new program will help the company establish formal, technical ties to third-party products beyond smart TVs, including connected speakers and soundbars. That expansion should also help Roku remain competitive as competitors, including Google (Android TV), Amazon (Fire TV) and Apple (tvOS), also attempt to expand the influence of their platforms to various connected entertainment products.
The Roku TV Ready program also broadens the reach of Roku's smart TV integration strategy, which complements its streaming player business and helps to shore up its fast-growing Platforms business, which encompasses advertising, subscription revenue sharing and software license fees. Roku, which ended Q3 2019 with 32.3 million active accounts, claims that one in three TVs sold in the US through the first nine months of 2019 ran the Roku operating system.
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading