CES: Roku Expands Into Audio Devices With Home Entertainment Licensing Program

Courtesy of Roku

Roku will now work with device manufacturers to create speakers and other audio systems that communicate wirelessly through its home entertainment network.

Roku is expanding from the television. 

The company, which sells streaming television devices and connected TV sets, is planning to introduce a line of Roku-branded home entertainment devices, including smart speakers and other audio systems. 

The home entertainment licensing program will give manufacturers the ability to license the Roku OS to develop smart speakers. It is also introducing Roku Connect, which will allow devices to communicate wirelessly and respond to voice controls. 

This program will operate in a manner similar to when Roku began licensing its smart TV technology to manufacturers in 2014. Today, Roku says that one out of every five televisions sold is a Roku TV. By expanding the program, Roku will offer technology for smart sound bars and smart speakers. Further, the Roku Connect technology can be licensed to develop audio systems that work together. TCL, which currently manufactures Roku TVs, will be the first partner and is expected to announce its plans during its Jan. 8 CES press conference in Las Vegas. 

In addition to the new licensing program, Roku is following in the footsteps of Amazon and Google and unveiling its own voice assistant, Roku Entertainment Assistant, which will respond to voice commands. It will roll out as a software update for existing operating systems this fall. 

"We envision a broader Roku ecosystem where the TV is the center of the experience," says Roku vp product management Mark Ely. 

He notes that Roku doesn't expect material revenue from the licensing of the technology, adding that the goal is to increase engagement on the platform and build a stronger relationship with Roku consumers. 

Roku, which went public in September, had revenue of $125 million during the third quarter of 2017, driven primarily by sales of its player. The company expects to eventually make most of its money from advertising sales on its platform, a business model rewarded by devoted consumers who spend a lot of time using its products. Currently, Roku has 16.7 million active accounts, up 48 percent year over year.

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