Roku Raises $45 Million from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., BSkyB, Others

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Streaming video technology provider Roku has raised $45 million in an investment round from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB, in which the conglomerate owns 39 percent, and others.

The company, whose devices enable people to connect streaming services such as Netflix to their TV sets, said Thursday that an unnamed strategic investor and existing investors Menlo Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners also participated in the capital infusion.

The Saratoga, Calif.-based company said its latest funding round will help it as it rolls out a branding campaign, continues an international expansion and continues to add new services and develop its advertising and other offers. "The new relationships include both financial backing and business agreements that demonstrate the industry’s confidence in Roku as the distribution platform to bring streaming entertainment to mainstream consumers," the company said.

Jon Miller, News Corp.’s chief digital officer, will join Roku’s board.

“We have watched Roku maintain market leadership since the launch of its streaming platform four years ago and we look forward to deepening our relationship, having already worked closely together on the launch of several products,” said Miller. “Roku’s significant technology advantage, coupled with a strong market position, places them in a unique position to be an integral part of the television landscape for years to come.”

"As an innovative content company we’re committed to embracing a wide range of complementary platforms to create more choice and flexibility for customers. Coupled with the on-going strength of satellite distribution, online and mobile help us unlock even more value for customers," said BSkyB CFO Andrew Griffith.

Roku, widely seen as a key competitor for Apple, is already one of the partners of BSkyB's just-launched standalone online video service NowTV. It already streams content from News Corp.'s Fox News, the Wall Street Journal Live and Fox's The X Factor.

Said Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood: “With the News Corporation and Sky strategic relationships, we are poised to further grow our leadership position and to become the TV distribution platform of the future.”

The company said it will launch the Roku Streaming Stick this fall. The wireless, dongle-sized streaming device will work with newer smart TVs and consumer electronics devices.

Earlier this year, Roku had said that it has sold more than 3 million of its boxes. It recently launched in the U.K., Ireland and Canada.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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