Roku Officially Announces Marketing Plans For Its Own-Branded Roku TVs In 2023
At CES 2023, smart TV company Roku confirmed long-speculation that it will be offering its first-ever Roku-made and solely branded Roku TVs through two value-oriented model series — Roku Select and Roku Plus.
The first fruits of the company’s own designed, built and self-marketed TVs will be offering what the company said is “value, simplicity, and delight” through streaming-focused TVs with HD or 4K UHD resolution.
Roku is developing, designing and providing quality control for its own Roku TV models, which it has manufactured under contract by several different OEM factory parteners, mostly in China.
The move comes as Roku’s highly successful smart TV OS platform has faced significant competition from other third-party smart TV OS platforms, in particular Android/Google TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, although Samsung and LG have also started marketing their Tizen and webOS platforms, respectively, to third-party TV brands and OEM/ODM hardware manufacturers.
Between the two initial self-branded TV series, Roku will offer 11 models ranging from 24- to 75-inches. The Roku Select and Plus Series TVs will be available in the U.S. beginning this spring at suggested retail prices ranging from $119 to $999, the company said.
The company also announced a new Roku sound bar model that will be coming this spring to integrate with its own and partner Roku TV brands, as well.
At least in the early going, Roku is focused on providing very good value Roku-branded smart TV products with pricing targeted to appeal to mainstream customers. But Roku said it fully intends to continue providing its OS and TV development and quality control services to third party TV brands — like TCL, Hisense and others. Some of those third-party brands are offering their own-branded Roku TVs with more step-up/premium features and price points.
In fact, Roku also announced its first reference design for manufacturers looking to produce OLED-based Roku TV models. See more on that below. Roku emphasized its innovations introduced through its own-branded Roku TVs “will be made available to the full Roku TV program.”
Roku executives said they plan to market the televisions both direct to consumers from the Roku web site and through third party retail partners, as it has traditionally sold other Roku branded hardware products like its Roku streaming media adapters, and Roku sound bars, wireless speakers and subwoofers.
Roku’s strategy is to offer its Roku TVs with step-up performance levels of picture and sound quality at affordable prices. Of course, its models will continue to offer the same easy to use, loaded streaming app selection and simple customizable and sometimes whimsical UI that has pushed Roku to the top three of the smart TV market share rankings in the United States, and rapidly growing elsewhere.
Roku continues to expand its own original and free ad-supported movies and programs through The Roku Channel, available on all Roku TVs and some third-party smart TV partners OS’s as well. Recent popular original and/or exclusive content includes supports themed channels, like “The Rich Eisen Show,” movies, like “Weird: The Weird Al Yankovic Story”, the “This Old House” franchise and a number of popular cooking channels.
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The entry “Roku Select” Roku branded TV series will focus on HD and Full HD performance levels and generally smaller screen sizes, while Roku Plus TV line will focus on 4K UHD resolution and step-up features.
All HD offerings will include Roku Voice Remotes, while all Plus Series TVs will come with Roku Voice Remote Pro. The latter is Roku’s top-of-the-line remote introduced as an add-on accessory last year, offering new features like built-in recharging capability, as well as popular voice remote, private listening and the “Find My Remote” lost-remote finder alarm built in.
Of course, the highly-reviewed large streaming app selection and easy-to-use user interface inherent in the popular Roku OS remains prominent in the new TVs.
Self-branded Roku TVs will add some new capabilities, as well. For example, a Roku executive told HD Guru that the new TVs will also support the new AV1 HD/4K compression codec to decode movies and programs from streaming services — like Netflix and YouTube — that have begun converting their content libraries over the efficient compression scheme.
Roku is member company of AOMedia, which developed the AV1 codec, but previous Roku TVs and most Roku media adapters have lacked the hardware and processing power to run decoding for it.
Roku-made TVs will be calibrated at the base level using advanced new Roku calibration software to present the best picture and sound performance for particular types of viewing conditions, the company said. Users will be able to easily dial in optimal calibrated picture settings for dark or bright viewing rooms from the set of pre-set picture modes in the Roku OS platform.
All Roku-branded TVs will offer an expanded audio ecosystem, using the new Roku TV Wireless Sound Bar, to make consumers’ home theater set-ups simple and free of connective wire clutter, the company said.
“Over the past 20 years, Roku has been instrumental in what is now the mainstream way to enjoy a great television series, a classic movie, or live sports,” stated Mustafa Ozgen, Roku president of devices. “Our goal is to continue to create an even better TV experience for everyone. These Roku-branded TVs will not only complement the current lineup of partner-branded Roku TV models, but also allow us to enable future smart TV innovations. The streaming revolution has only just begun.”
First OLED Roku TV Reference Design
Meanwhile the Roku Reference Design program continues to expand in more advanced television models from its manufacturer partners. This includes 4K and 8K Mini-LED LCD TVs and, as mentioned, OLED TV models as well.
The strategy gives Roku a hedge as well as a competitive edge against the disruptive efforts of other smart TV OS platform developers including, Google, Amazon, Xperi, LG, Samsung and others, which have gained ground in the last few years, especially outside of the United States.
In recent years, Roku has seen companies like Google (Android/Google TV) and Amazon (Fire TV OS) reach deals to integrate their respective OS platforms into third party TV brands, some of which where exclusive or near-exclusive Roku TV OS supporters, previously.
Roku said the new premium OLED TV reference design will give Roku TV manufacturer partners planning new OLED TV models a platform to ensure “superb picture quality, inky black levels, outstanding contrast, highly saturated colors, smooth motion, and superior viewing angles.”
No initial OLED Roku TV partners were named at the time of the Roku announcement.
The company said that since developing the first Roku TV model, 11 Roku TV reference designs have gone into production covering produces with LED- and Mini-LED based LCD TVs with 2K, 4K and 8K resolution, and now OLED TV models of varying capabilities.
Roku specializes in developing a smart TV OS streaming platform integrated with the hardware for “value-conscious designs.” The company pointed out that Roku and its partners have consistently topped industry rankings for value, reliability, and performance.
“This new OLED Roku TV reference design enables our brand partners to deliver the premium TV experience that OLED brings, including dark black levels, superb contrast and superior viewing angles, along with all the features that Roku users love,” stated Tom McFarland, Roku TV Business Development VP. “In addition to beautiful picture quality and our simple and easy-to-use operating system, the Roku TV program enables many of the top TV brands to offer consumers a wide variety of models and sizes to choose from.”
Since the Roku TV program launched in 2014, the Roku OS has become “the No. 1 smart TV OS sold in the U.S.” (as of Q3-2022), the company said, citing third-party market research.
Through the reference design program, Roku provides a smart TV platform for its partners that simplifies onboarding, streaming channels, and software updates, the company said. From launch to date, Roku TV has added numerous leading TV partners while expanding internationally to nine countries, including Mexico, Canada, Germany, Australia, Chile, Peru, and Brazil. This year Roku is set to expand its Roku TV program with the planned addition of new TV brands and new Roku TV models.
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By Greg Tarr
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