CES: With new partnerships and services Roku goes from streaming to mainstream

By Natan Edelsburg 

When the Roku player launched in 2008, it was the first product to stream Netflix to the TV, and that was its only channel. Fast forward to CES 2013, where Roku announced that they surpassed 700 channels on the platform, including channels from FlingoVEVO, and Spotify.

Roku also announced a new hardware device: the Roku Streaming Stick. 14 consumer electronics makers have made their devices Roku-ready, which will allow for the USB memory stick-sized Roku stick to be plugged directly into the mobile-high definition link port of new smart TVs (and some other devices). According to Roku, “moving the streaming platform to a stick addresses the concern of Smart TVs or other electronics becoming obsolete shortly after purchase as the streaming stick can be replaced, as needed and for a fraction of the cost of the device. Additionally manufacturers benefit from a proven streaming platform that involves very little financial and technical investment.”

It seems likely that as manufacturers begin to market their products as “Roku-ready,” even less savvy TV buyers will be inclined to purchase the stick (as opposed to the more expensive, bulky set-top box), and embrace streaming technology on their TVs.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of amidst the slate of Roku’s CES announcements, is its new partnership with Time Warner Cable (TWC). Set to launch this quarter, TWC will make up to 300 live television channels available on Roku to TWC subscribers. This is a big step for the traditional cable provider and will finally allow their subscribers to avoid the mostly ancient technology that is the set top box.