Roku’s founder and CEO, Anthony Wood, sets out a vision for the future of TV streaming
Roku pioneered streaming to TV, by connecting users to the streaming content they love. We started by asking last Saturday’s IFA keynoter Anthony Wood whether the way people watch TV is changing, and how the business is helping consumers get what they want.
Over the last decade, consumers have increasingly moved from watching live linear TV to streaming. We believe that all TV will be streamed because it’s a better way to watch TV. With streaming, consumers can access a vast amount of content from around the globe, from many competing publishers, free or paid, on their own schedule.
How is the transition in the TV ecosystem affecting hardware manufacturers?
The transition to streaming and with that open TV platforms is disrupting TV manufacturers. This shift creates new winners. For example, the rise of smartphones resulted in many changes, including market leadership and the move away from proprietary software to licensed open software platforms. Similarly, with smart TVs, it is difficult for hardware manufacturers to keep up with the immensely fast pace in which the TV streaming ecosystem is changing. New streaming services are launching all the time. TV software needs updating multiple times a year as the TV user experience continues to evolve.
Where does the company name come from, and what are you doing in terms of global branding?
doing in terms of global branding? Roku means six in Japanese as it is the sixth company that I founded. Roku devices are currently available in 20+ countries around the world though most of our business Anthony Wood Founder and CEO, Roku today is in the US. Streaming is a huge global opportunity with one billion broadband households worldwide. Our brand is built on our reputation for producing the best streaming devices which creates happy customers who tell their friends.
Can you tell us a little about the background to your company?
I founded the company in 2002 and our headquarters is in Silicon Valley. In Europe, we have offices in the UK, Netherlands and Denmark. We pioneered streaming to TV and launched our first streaming player in 2008, the first device to stream Net ix to TV.
Who are you working with primarily in Europe?
In Europe our streaming players are available today in the UK, Ireland and France, from most major retailers. We also work with operators, who license use of our TV streaming platform to deliver streaming services to their customers. Sky offers streaming video using a Roku player in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy.
You are powering a lot of smart TVs in the US… what is the plan for global rollout?
We have made amazing progress over the last few years. We launched the Roku TV programme in the autumn of 2014. In the first half of this year, we estimate that more than one-in-three smart TVs sold in the US is powered by the Roku operating system. At IFA we are announcing that Roku TV models will be available for TV makers outside of North America, with the first country being the UK. Hisense is our first TV manufacturing partner in the UK and is expected to launch Hisense Roku TV models before the end of the year.
Photo: Anthony Wood, Founder and CEO, Roku