Devices like the ones Roku provides can turn any TV into a media streaming device. Roku devices range from small dongles that fit on the back of your TV to full-fledged set-top boxes.
Roku is an American company that produces set-top boxes that turn an ordinary TV into a “smart” one. Devices connect to the Internet and allow you to watch shows, movies and series in applications or on online cinema sites.
Some smart TVs come pre-built with the Roku app. No matter which Roku device you purchase, they all offer instant access to the biggest on-demand media providers.
All major ISPs are available through Roku. Many sports channels are also available, as well as music providers such as Spotify and small online radio stations. You can also add local TV channels to your Roku device. Roku supports numerous applications. On it, you can not only turn on the video, but also listen to music or view photos.
Roku works over the Internet. In the same way, you can stream YouTube or Netflix content to your computer or smartphone, and Roku streams to your TV. Roku devices connect to the TV via the HDMI port. Once connected, select Roku as the source. It is very similar to a DVD player or set-top box. From there, you’ll be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi details and create a Roku account.
An Internet set-top box is an analogue of smart TVs. It is inexpensive, and you can connect it to any device with an HDMI connector. After connecting, it connects to the Internet, and significantly expands the functionality. You install apps to listen to music, watch streaming content, and even play games.
Until the mid-2000s, the now mega-popular Netflix company was engaged in online DVD rental. But the discs were delivered by mail, which is why Netflix lost to its main competitor, the Blockbuster rental chain. In 2005, the company came to the solution of delivery problems – it began developing the Netflix box. The device downloaded the selected movie overnight, and the user could watch the movie the next day on the terms of a regular DVD rental.
With the development of Internet speed and the advent of YouTube, the company changed plans and switched to streaming. At the same time, the company revised its plans for the hardware project as well – now the device is positioned as an auxiliary tool for accessing the service. The set-top box was supposed to help boost Netflix’s popularity over traditional TV and DVD rentals.
At the end of 2007, the production of the first batch of Netflix players began, the company was preparing to launch sales. But two weeks before the start of the project, the CEO of the service, Reed Hastings, began to doubt: he suggested that the appearance of his own device would hinder the development of Netflix on competitor consoles.
Netflix decided not to risk and release the device on behalf of another company – Roku. It was founded in 2002 by Anthony Wood, Vice President of Internet TV for Netflix in 2007-2008. He also participated in the design of the console. Netflix invested $5.7 million in Wood’s startup, and he stepped down as vice president to launch a new product.
In 2008, the device was launched as Roku’s Netflix Player, but subsequent installments have already been released under the startup’s brand. The models differed only in logos: Netflix was replaced by Roku. Then the functions of the set-top box were limited to streaming video in average quality.
Despite good sales, in 2009 Netflix sold its stake in Roku, fearing competition from the growing popularity of Apple TV.
Roku became an independent company, but retained its friendship with Netflix: they remain important strategic partners, and their offices are even located in the same building. Netflix is still the most popular app among Roku users since the first set-top box was released.