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Roku Ups Channels, Non Set-Top Box Focus

7 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Media device manufacturer inks deals with six TV makers for its “streaming stick” technology to increase “smart TV” functionality

Roku Jan. 7 said it has added Time Warner Cable TV to its streaming channel network, in addition to Dish Network, Blockbuster on Demand, Spotify, Vevo, iHeart Radio and the Amazon cloud player.

Saratoga, Calif.-based Roku also announced agreements with television makers Apex, Coby, Haier, Hisense, TCL and previously disclosed Westinghouse Digital to include plug-ins for its “streaming stick” technology.

The portable devices enable Roku streaming functionality to any compatible TV simply by inserting the stick into a USB port with a mobile high-definition link (MHL). In addition, the 3M streaming projector is now offering Roku functionality.

The “streaming stick” features Wi-Fi, processor, memory and software to deliver third-party streaming video content. Once the stick is plugged into the MHL port on the device, the TV’s remote can be used for all streaming commands. Like Roku streaming players, the streaming stick includes free software updates and channel enhancements.

Roku in 2008 helped launch the subscription video-on-demand market with the release of a Netflix-branded media player. With major competitors such as Apple TV and Google TV, Roku has upped marketing domestically and abroad (the latter via a $45 million investment from News Corp.), in addition to rollout of simpler technology.

Roku now offers more than 700 channels of streaming content (including games) — most requiring third-party subscriptions. Content holders include Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, Pandora and HBO Go, among others. The company said more than 1 billion hours of content was streamed by users in 2012.

“Consumer electronics makers are turning to the Roku Streaming Stick to create smart TVs, projectors, Blu-ray Disc players, digital antennas — and even audio receivers,” said Chas Smith, GM of OEM business at Roku. “With 14 CE manufacturers now turning to Roku for streaming solutions, consumers will have many choices in 2013 when shopping for new, innovative and affordable electronics.”

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