Roku exec: There needs to be a shakeout of TV-connected devices

The world of streaming video devices is too fragmented for the good of the pay-TV industry--and is in need of consolidation, according to a top executive with streaming video provider Roku.

Andrew Ferrone, VP of pay-TV for Roku, provider of the nation's most popular streaming device, made his comments here during a noontime panel at the National Association of Broadcasters Conference in Las Vegas.

In the realm of mobile devices, pay-TV operators and content providers have an easier time developing, deploying and achieving scale on multi-screen apps, simply because there are only two relevant operating systems: iOS and Android. The dynamic is similar for personal computers, with Windows and Mac OS dominating the terrain for decades.

Devices connecting to the TV, however, are legion: There are streaming boxes like Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and others; there are videogame consoles Xbox One and PlayStation 4; and there are assorted CE devices, such as smart TVs and Blu-ray players.

"TV devices are too fragmented, and that creates a real challenge for pay-TV operators," Ferrone told the panel.

Ferrone said Roku's own research shows that 75 percent of consumers prefer to watch TV on actual TV sets. Consumers would also benefit from a less fragmented device world, he added. "When you buy a Windows PC, you always know where the start menu is. That drives engagement."

Taking the stage just prior to Ferrone was Alison Moore, general manager and executive VP of TV Everywhere for NBC Universal. Moore said her division's TVE usage is up 39 percent year-over-year after it re-focused its marketing behind its "Watch TV without the TV" consumer campaign.

VOD starts are up 22 percent, Moore said, and live starts are up a whopping 146 percent. The latter increase shouldn't be surprising, since most of NBC's affiliate stations only started live-streaming recently.

Regarding the deployment of TV Everywhere, she remarked, "I feel like it's still early. We're just getting started."

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