This is all to say that if you had to bet on Roku’s survival, its leader is the reason to go “yes.” Recently Wood told the “TV of Tomorrow Show” that his brain-child the DVR is dying. The same could eventually happen to set-top boxes, like Roku, if Smart TV takes over. Here’s why that is okay with him.
Wood had a fairly simple concept from its inception: Offer an affordable, unobtrusive device that streams as much content as possible. Though some punted cable/satellite thanks to Roku, the box was meant to augment regular TV watching. The average Roku owner now streams 12 hours of television per week, compared to 35 hours of overall average TV watching.
“It’s gone well,” Wood says in a telephone interview. “We’ve sold more than 3 million devices and its rapidly growing.”
The critical point that keeps Wood relaxed while tech behemoths stomp into his space: They’re stomping, primarily, with the device in mind. As my colleague Michael Kanellos points out, “The sad truth of the matter is that hardware is ultimately a vehicle. It exists … to ferry information from server A to consumer B.”
Wood gets that.
“Our goal is to be a distribution platform for television directly from the Internet,” he says. “And we’re focused on building scale, because in TV you’re only relevant if you have a large number of customers.”
Wood says there might be a day when Roku exists device-free. So even if Google and Apple do to Smart TV what they did to Smartphones, Roku would hardly be irrelevant. It’s building a content platform that would be much easier for hardware makers to invite in than try to replicate. The latest example addresses a pet peeve of mine — that TV can’t travel internationally with more ease. Roku recently partnered with DISH to create DISHWorld service, “with more than 50 international channels to the Roku platform in the U.S. – including the leading Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Bangla and Brazilian channels.”
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