• Roku’s Smart TV Strategy is Paying Off, So Now Amazon Follows

    Roku’s strategy of powering TV manufacturers’ smart TVs is meeting with success as the company announced yesterday that its Roku TVs accounted for 13% of smart TV sales in the U.S. as of December, 2016 according to IHS. So naturally Roku’s success is attracting others to the model, with Amazon announcing yesterday that it has partnered with 3 Chinese brands, Seiki, Westinghouse Electronics and Element Electronics to integrate Fire TV functionality into multiple new 4K TVs.

    The Amazon integrations mean that the Fire TV experience, including all of its 7,000 apps, will be available on the new TVs without needing an external connected TV device. This is the same benefit of Roku TVs - all the functionality of a Roku, but without the box. This type of integration makes it more straightforward for users to access OTT content alongside broadcast and cable TV content from separate sources. The Amazon integrations also feature voice search powered by Alexa to search content, launch apps, play music, etc.

    For its part, Roku is hardly standing still, announcing yesterday that it will introduce another 50 TV models with its partners in 2017, bringing to 150 the number of models available. Roku said it has over 13 million active monthly accounts which can access 4,500 channels now offer over 450,000 choices of TV episodes and movies.

    With CES 2017 this week, it’s clear that Roku and Amazon are just 2 of the various players making it easier for viewers to watch OTT content on the big screen. Yesterday AirTV, a combination over-the-air and OTT device, debuted from a new Dish Network subsidiary. No doubt we’ll see other news as CES gets underway that will add to the choices of gaming consoles, Chromecasts, Apple TVs and other devices already on the market. Meanwhile Comcast and other pay-TV operators will be ramping up set-top box integrations with OTT providers in 2017.

    All of this means that for viewers, the options to effortlessly watch great OTT content on the big screen will continue to multiply. That in turn means even more audience fragmentation for traditional TV networks and pressure on expensive pay-TV bundles.