Roku has introduced a new hybrid set-top for pay-TV partners designed to put linear and OTT channels on the same platform.
The Now TV Smart Box will first be deployed by European operator Sky in the UK. Sky is part of the Roku Powered licensing program, which lets operators deliver online video via custom interfaces using Roku hardware and software. Other European operators participating in the program include Telstra, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
As tech blogs including Engadget note, the Now TV Smart Box (Sky's name for the product) looks just like the Ultra HD Roku 4, the latest generation consumer device introduced by Roku late last year.
"With the new Roku Powered hybrid set top box we are enabling operators to bridge the gap between linear broadcast and streaming TV services," said Andrew Ferrone, VP of pay-TV at Roku. "Many consumers have a hybrid viewing pattern and leverage both traditional broadcast and on demand or catch-up services."
Roku's new hybrid box won't debut until later this year. However, Sky will update the user interface for its Roku Powered customers starting next month. The update will include an upgraded recommendation engine, as well as "catch-up"-oriented aggregation feature.
Roku is competing in the same "hybrid" market as TiVo, looking to augment its retail business by licensing its technology to pay-TV operators.
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