Roku Unveils Whole Home Entertainment OEM Licensing Program for Audio Devices Compatible with Roku TV and the Roku Ecosystem

January 11 2018, 02:30
At CES 2018, Roku unveiled plans to make it easier for consumers to enjoy streaming entertainment around the whole home. Roku plans to make it especially easy for Roku TV users to add great audio to their TV experience, including voice control. The new whole home entertainment licensing program will enable OEM brands to build soundbars and smart speakers, surround sound and multi-room audio systems that use Roku Connect software to work together as a home entertainment network.

Also at CES 2018, TCL, one of the world’s largest and America’s fastest-growing television brand, announced plans to bring to market the Alto family of audio products as an assortment of soundbars that will offer both standard and smart solutions. The company, unveiled the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar, as the first product in the Alto family, expected in late 2018, the first device to launch from Roku’s newly announced Whole Home Entertainment Licensing program.

With Roku Connect devices working together, users will be able to connect wirelessly and control complete systems with voice commands and a single remote. In addition, OEM brands will be able to license smart soundbar and smart speaker hardware reference designs along with the Roku operating system, Roku OS. 

Roku also announced plans to develop and launch a voice assistant, the Roku Entertainment Assistant, that is optimized for home entertainment. Along with Roku Connect, the new voice assistant is expected to be rolled out to most Roku TV models and Roku players, as a free software update to the Roku operating system by Fall 2018. When launched, the Roku Entertainment Assistant will enable users to use voice commands to enjoy entertainment on voice-supported Roku devices. For example, customers will be able to say, “Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room” and a smart soundbar with Roku Connect will begin playing music – even if the TV is turned off.

“We’ve always focused on making it incredibly simple for consumers to find and enjoy streaming entertainment on their TVs, and with an expanded Roku ecosystem, consumers will be able to add great sound to their TVs and audio around the whole home in a modern way,” says Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “Consumers will love the benefits of a home entertainment network, such as having more affordable options, adding one device at a time, using their voice, having a simplified set up and Wi-Fi connectivity, and holding just one remote control. And, of course, OEM brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our already large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

Four years ago, Roku unveiled its TV licensing program, simplifying the smart TV concept with OEM brands. The Roku TV licensing program is flourishing, and Roku TVs accounted for more than one out of every five smart TVs sold in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2017. Roku also announced that Magnavox joins the program as the ninth brand – bringing new Roku TVs to market this Spring.

Roku believes that the home theater market is ready for a modern approach encompassing the whole home. By expanding its licensing program to allow for easy ways for audio devices to become part of the Roku streaming ecosystem, OEM brands can build smart devices for home entertainment. This is expected to make Roku TV even more appealing to both OEM brands and consumers, and allow Roku to continue to grow active accounts and increase engagement. Roku monetizes active accounts as users engage with content and advertising on its platform.

OEM brands can choose from implementing Roku TV, a smart TV powered by the Roku OS, the new Smart Soundbar, designed to work with any TV that has a HDMI ARC, and expected to have features to allow it to work better with a Roku TV, the Smart Speaker to extend audio from another device for a multi-room experience., or Roku Connect, enabling OEM brands to build home entertainment devices that connect wirelessly to Roku OS powered devices and other Roku Connect devices within a home entertainment network. 

Roku Connect devices will be identified by a Roku Connect logo. OEM brands can license the Roku Connect software (which has a hardware requirement) for free. In addition, Roku does not expect licensing revenues, if any, from smart speakers and smart soundbars to be material in the foreseeable future.

TCL Announcements
During CES 2018, TCL announced plans to bring to market the Alto family of audio products as an assortment of soundbars that will offer both standard and smart solutions. Working with Roku, the company unveiled the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar, as the first product in the Alto family, expected in late 2018. This product will take advantage of the Roku OS to offer premium sound, while taking advantage of Roku Connect to connect to other AV devices, and new voice controls accessible through the Roku Entertainment Assistant. Although the TCL Roku Smart Soundbar will be compatible with any TV, it will be even better when combined with TCL Roku TVs by extending hands free voice and audio capabilities to the TV for more control and entertainment functionality.

“Our TCL Roku TVs are amazingly popular among consumers, making the TCL brand the 3rd most popular smart TV in the US in 2017. We’re doubling down on our partnership with Roku to offer our customers an easy way to add premium sound and enhanced functionality to a TCL Roku TV,” said Chris Larson, Senior Vice President, TCL. “TCL is dedicated to integrating leading technologies into our entertainment product portfolio and by partnering with Roku we’re bringing a better home theater experience to our consumers.”

“TCL is an exceptional Roku TV partner and a natural fit to be the first partner to plan to build a smart soundbar under our new licensing program,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “The TCL Roku Smart Soundbar will offer a great value and make TV watching even more enjoyable by offering premium sound and more entertainment control through Roku Connect and the Roku Entertainment Assistant.” |
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