The first Roku TVs from Element will be FullHD 1080p models available this year. Roku described Element as one of the top five TV suppliers in the U.S. in unit sales.
The first Roku TVs were launched two years ago, and in 2016, the TV brands offering Roku TVs grew to comprise TCL, Hitachi, Hisense, Sharp and Insignia. Roku TVs from those brands accounted for 13 percent of smart TVs sold at retail in the U.S. in calendar 2016, said Chas Smith, GM of Roku TVs and players.
In 2017, however, Hisense’s Sharp brand plans to drop the OS in the U.S., Hisense told TWICE.
In North America, the selection of Roku TVs in 2017 will grow 50 percent to 150 SKUs from 100 throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, said Smith. The SKU count will grow in part because Roku TVs will be available in a broader range of higher priced models in North America, some of which will be the first Roku TVs with HDR. Some will include both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision HDR. The first North American Roku TVs with full-array back-lit local dimming will also hit the market in 2017, he said.
In addition, screens sizes will increase, growing to 75 inches after having been available in 24- to 65-inch sizes in 2016. At least two brands – Hisense and TCL -- will offer 75-inch 4K Roku TVs in 2017, the two companies told TWICE. Both companies will offer Roku TVs with HDR 10, Dolby Vision HDR, and full-array back-lit local dimming. The two companies will be publicly announced on Jan. 4.
Roku TVs are currently priced up to around $1,300 to $1,400 and include FullHD 1080p and Ultra HD 4K displays, Smith said. Roku TVs will continue to focus on affordable models, he added.
The new Roku TVs will run on the new Roku 7.5 OS, which pauses live over-the-air programming for up to 90 minutes to a USB drive plugged into the TVs.
Details of Element’s plans were unavailable, but TCL and Hisense outlined their plans to TWICE.
At CES, TCL is launching new 4K smart TVs across the C, P, and S series, all with HDR and Roku OS. All 4K models in the C and P series incorporate the HDR 10 and Dolby Vision HDR technologies as well as color gamut approaching the DCI-P3 standard, TCL said. The P series TVs represent the brand’s first 4K TVs with back-lit local dimming.
For its part, the Hisense brand is bringing the Roku TV OS to its 4K TVs for the first time with five models. In its 2016 line, Hisense offered Roku TV only in select FullHD models. Hisense is also launching new FullHD Roku TVs in 2017. Other Hisense smart TVs launched in 2017 feature a proprietary smart-TV OS.
Status report: In updating its metrics, privately held Roku said the number of active accounts, or households that have streamed video through a Roku device or Roku TV in the past 30 days, grew more than 40 percent to more than 13 million in 2016, up from 9 million at the end of 2015. During late 2015 and 2016, Roku expanded to several more countries and at the end of 2016 was in 10 countries.
The number of hours streamed grew even faster at 60 percent to more than 9 billion from 5.5 billion, driven not only by more users but also by users streaming more often, Smith said.
Revenues grew by an unspecified percentage in 2016 to $400 million, with the majority of revenue coming from the sale of Roku Sticks and settop boxes. The majority of profit, however, came from the company’s media and licensing segment. That segment includes advertising revenue from commercials on free streaming services, income from licensing the Roku TV OS to TV makers, and the licensing of hardware and software to cable TV providers that offer their own over-the-top (OTT) video services, Smith said.
As for content, Roku said it offers 450,000 movies and TV episodes through 4,500 channels, up from 350,000 movies and TV episodes through 3,000 channels in early 2016.