Roku Is Rising

Stephen Yagielowicz

A major player in the set-top box arena, Roku has announced a recent cash infusion to the tune of $45 million — from none other than Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, with British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), Menlo Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners — plus “an unnamed strategic investor,” all taking a stake in the device’s future.

According to the company, these relationships include both direct financial backing as well as business agreements demonstrating “the industry’s confidence in Roku as the distribution platform to bring streaming entertainment to mainstream consumers.”

For adult publishers, the real value of Roku is member retention. -Colin Rowntree, Wasteland CEO.

Roku says it will use the money on advertising and developing international markets; for engineering and production; and to support sales growth of its hardware and digital media services; which include transactional, pay-per-view video, and content packages.

One technological milestone is the company’s expansion of its product line beyond the traditional “box” streaming player, to its new Roku Streaming Stick — a wireless, pocketsized streaming device that seamlessly integrates with newer televisions and other consumer electronics devices — and which the company hopes to bundle with new TVs.

Similar in appearance to a USB thumb drive, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs into a television’s MHL-enabled HDMI port and will be priced comparably to the standalone Roku box players; which range in price from around $50 to $150, depending on features.

MHL is a new version of HDMI that delivers power and other resources for streaming — with new TVs from Samsung and Toshiba supporting MHL, and others coming soon.

Wasteland CEO Colin Rowntree told XBIZ that he is glad to hear Roku is expanding by adding new features and bringing its device into more retail outlets, such as BestBuy.

“As an early adopter of Roku for Wasteland.com,” Rowntree stated, “We’ve enjoyed a steady and loyal membership base that join the site specifically to be able to watch our movies on their glorious living room flat-screen televisions.”

Rowntree notes that for adult publishers, the real value of Roku is member retention.

“People spend months setting up their custom playlists,” he told XBIZ, “knowing that if they cancel their membership, it’s bye-bye playlist!”

It all adds up to a compelling revenue stream that might only increase in profitability for adult content owners due to these latest improvements.