Taking a page out of TiVo's book, Roku has decided to target the pay-TV provider market with a white-label media streaming solution for their video subscribers.
The "Roku Powered" initiative is a licensing program for the Roku Inc. online video platform, which the company says offers pay-TV providers "a world-class user experience, unmatched breadth of content, a robust developer ecosystem, and fantastic price value." The platform bundles together both Roku hardware and software, while the licensing program allows service providers to customize the Roku user interface and control which streaming apps are made available.
This isn't the first time that Roku has explored the idea of partnering with pay-TV providers. In the UK, Sky has delivered its streaming catchup service known as Now TV, on Roku streaming boxes since the end of 2012. In the US, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has dipped its toe in Roku's waters by making a TWC app available on Roku's small retail set-tops. (See TWC's Mike Angus Unplugged.)
The big push to pursue the pay-TV market now, however, likely comes, at least in part, from watching the success of TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) in the space. As of the second quarter, cable subscribers now make up roughly 80% of TiVo's customer base, and the company posted a quarterly profit last month of $9.3 million. Roku's hardware isn't nearly as full-featured as TiVo's, but Roku could position its product line as a low-cost alternative to TiVo's popular DVRs. (See TiVo Continues Cable Run.)
As for how pay-TV providers could use the Roku platform, they could simply bundle the Roku boxes as part of an add-on video-on-demand service, or they could follow the Time Warner Cable path of creating a new IP app with existing linear TV content. Roku says its platform "can even integrate an electronic program guide and bring local streaming channels to your users."
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading