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Netflix Wants More Roku

10 Jun, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix Inc.'s foray into movie distribution to the television via a proprietary set-top box has apparently caught on with consumers.

Reed Hastings, president and CEO of Los Gatos, Calif.-based online DVD rental pioneer, is reportedly urging the device's manufacturer, Roku Inc., to up production on the $100 dictionary-sized box that allows Netflix's 8.2 million subscribers to stream movies and television shows from the Internet to the TV for free.

Netflix launched the box, which can be purchased at www.Roku.com, last month.

Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey, who confirmed the device's back-order status, said Hastings had made no official statement about product shortages, and believed comments attributed to the CEO by the Los Angeles Times emanated from an analyst briefing.

Tim Twerdahl, VP of consumer products at Roku, said orders were being filled on a two-week delay with new inventory arriving weekly.

He wouldn't comment on the quantity of the initial production run of set-top boxes, but said replacement shipments numbered in the thousands.

Twerdahl denied there was any plea from Hastings to up production, and said the two companies were working closely to solve the shortages.

“The box has been super popular,” Twerdahl said, admitting that both critical and consumer praise for the box had caught privately held Roku by — pleasant — surprise.

“We're absolutely thrilled,” he said.

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