Roku set to undercut, disrupt smart TV market

Moving ever closer to completely dominating the smart TV market, Roku has announced that TV sets with its integrated streaming technology will soon hit stores with highly competitive price points.

Hisense Roku TV

Roku TV manufactured by Hisense. TCL is also producing Roku TVs.

How competitive? A 32-inch Roku-powered set manufactured by TCL--one of the two Chinese CE companies partnering with the over-the-top technology developer--comes with an MSRP of only $229.

Roku announced back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show that it was partnering with TCL and Hisense to integrate its streaming service--previously confined to set-tops and dongles--into TVs.

On Tuesday, Aug. 19, Roku revealed the first significant details about those products, which promise to significantly disrupt a smart TV market already struggling to compete with Roku's far greater content selection and ease-of-use.

"By combining Hisense's strengths in hardware design, manufacturing and scale with the Roku operating system we've created a new Smart TV that combines more entertainment choices, a fast and intuitive interface, and a very affordable price," said Jim Funk, senior VP of product management for Roku.

TCL is already taking pre-orders on Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) for its Roku TV models, while Hisense says it will begin selling its Roku products in "late September."

Of course, the largely Korean-headquartered power base for the smart TV market can probably wait.

While smart TVs have struggled to assemble a compelling selection of player apps for their products, as well as building elegant interfaces to package them, Roku--the No. 1 OTT device maker, according to numerous research surveys--has succeeded at both initiatives. Roku currently touts more than 1,500 programming channels, including all the major SVOD and transactional services.

"I can tell you the percentage of [smart TVs] that have a Roku box or Apple TV (NASDAQ: AAPL) box connected to them is very high," said former Samsung smart TV executive Richard Bullwinkle at a June technology conference covered by FierceCable.

For more:
- read this Roku press release (PDF)

Related links:
Smart TVs won't dominate the connected TV future, study says
Samsung halts sales on Video and Media Hub, will discontinue service
Parks: Roku owns 44% of the U.S. OTT device market