Roku Inc. is launching a line of TVs that play video from services like
Netflix without requiring a set-top box. While similar to smart TVs on
the market already, the company's Internet streaming platform offers
some 1,200 apps and more comprehensive niche content choices.
Saratoga, California-based streaming set-top box pioneer is partnering
with two of the biggest Chinese TV makers in the world, TCL Corp. and
Hisense International Co. Ltd. on six models. It plans to showcase them
on the sidelines of the annual International CES gadget show in Las
Vegas, starting Monday.
The Roku TV will also provide users a way
to access feeds from regular live TV providers and to connect to other
devices such as Blu-ray disc players.
Roku launched its first
streaming video player in May 2008, when the box only played content
from Netflix. Since then, the company has sold nearly 8 million units
and claims that its device is more widely used than Apple's Apple TV
set-top box. Apps available on Roku's devices include everything from
Amazon Instant Video to Karaoke Party on Demand.
Anthony Wood, the
founder and CEO of Roku, said the TVs will be priced affordably. He
expects the sets to be sold in the U.S. at large retailers such as
Walmart, Target and Best Buy starting in late 2014.
Wood says he
would like the Roku platform to replace those offered by a variety of TV
manufacturers. Many TV makers' platforms lack key apps from content
providers like ESPN, Fox and the NBA.
Roku shares in the revenue
when its partners sell advertisements, rent movies or sign up new
subscribers. Within a few years, such revenue will be larger than the
sales of the boxes themselves, Wood says.
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