Will Roku take over the UK?

Media streaming giant Roku entered the UK streaming market back in 2012, providing users with a growing library of free movies, TV episodes and documentaries. Fast forward to the present day, and Roku have ramped up their efforts in the UK in a bid to compete with the other big streaming giants in the market.

Roku is a big deal in the US as it currently has a strong grip on a staggering 51% of the streaming box market, clearly symbolising its strength in a streaming mega-hub that is the US. Will we soon see the same happen in the UK?

With nearly 54 million active account holders, Roku’s penetration of the streaming market is extraordinary and means they have a strong force of strategic minds behind the scenes driving the global expansion of the Roku brand, which could soon see them competing with the big UK players in the near future.

What is Roku?

Roku is an American TV set-top video streaming device and Smart TV manufacturer. Interestingly, Roku translates to ‘six’ in Japanese because Roku is the sixth company launched by its founder, English-born American businessman, Anthony Wood.

Roku’s sole focus is to provide a simple way to access streaming video and audio content on your TV, as a Roku device allows you to watch them all on one platform. Although you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to use Roku’s features, subscription services that you have access to, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, do charge individually.

Will Roku take over the UK?

Roku has worked incredibly hard from its humble beginnings to get to where it is today; a considerable challenge albeit the circumstances in a rapidly changing industry.

In Q1 of 2021, Roku users streamed 18.3 billion hours of content on Roku devices, a 49% increase year on year, fuelled by the impact of the pandemic as well as a rise in popularity on the Roku platform itself as it continues to push new and innovative ways to engage users.

Recently, Roku launched a new entertainment program called “Roku Recommends” with the aim of simplifying the process of deciding what to watch. This new weekly program presents users with the top 5 titles to stream that week by leveraging its own data. It is claimed that “the average streamer spends more than seven minutes searching for what to watch next”, and with Roku’s forward-thinking approach, could we see them grabbing more of a market share in the UK as one of the only streaming giants to offer such a solution?

As well as new and innovative ways to capture their audience, one of Roku’s major selling points that could further widen its reach in the UK is its clean UI that avoids pushing users directly towards any one service, allowing users to watch what they actually want to watch. This sets Roku apart from other big players such as Amazon Fire TV, as Amazon’s Fire OS pushes users towards Prime Video and other Amazon services, complicating the user process entirely. Roku on the other hand gives users free roam allowing them to easily pick what they want to watch without any services or platforms being pushed upon them.

The clean interface on Roku’s OS displays the content front and centre as soon as the TV is switched on and means that users don’t have to trawl through different streaming apps for a long period, nor are users forced to endure any other services pushed upon them allowing them to discover their favourite streaming apps and shows with ease. With this factor considered, it’s no wonder that in 2020, Roku viewers streamed a total of 58.7 billion hours of content seeing an increase of 55% year over year, symbolising huge growth in an incredibly competitive landscape, all by simplifying the decision making process and allowing users more time to watch their favourite shows through a clean and immersive UI.

Among the many benefits that Roku presents to users that can inevitably pierce the UK market, affordability is another key point to consider. In comparison to other players in the UK market such as Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Apple TV, Roku sits at the lower end of the price spectrum, with Roku devices priced between £29.99 and £49.99. This selling point for Roku could further cement its position in the UK market as one of the more affordable players. Roku’s competitive price point could be a driving force behind the rise in the number of cord-cutters, as Roku as a platform provides the all-in-one solution for users at just a fraction of the cost of traditional cable TV.

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In recent news, TCL Electronics and Roku announced the launch of TCL Roku TV models in the UK, available in both HD and 4K UHD, ranging from 32” to 65”. This colossal news for Roku further supports how the brand is penetrating the UK market by introducing new products into its offering for UK consumers at a reasonable price. This partnership between TCL and Roku will help to maintain their strong UK sales growth and go on to increase their market share, potentially fuelling a large uptake in user numbers for the brand and allowing them to further cement themselves in the UK market.

Drawing on the many benefits that Roku has to offer to UK streamers, it is evident that Roku could take time to evolve in the UK as the other media streaming giants have a firm grip on this landscape, meaning Roku has a big challenge on its hands if it wants to take over the UK completely. In Q1 of 2021 in Europe, Roku had only an 8% share of screen viewing time in comparison to Samsung with 19%, Chromecast with 12%, Amazon Fire TV with 10%, LG TV with 10% and Android TV with 9%, meaning Roku continues to tail other streaming services, but not by a huge margin. With the introduction of its new Smart TV offering in the UK, it could only be a matter of time before we see Roku contesting with the big players.

Conclusion: Roku, coming to a TV near you

Having captured a significant 30% share of global big-screen viewing time in Q1 of 2021, the data shows how Roku is further cementing itself as a streaming powerhouse on a global scale, yet it appears to have a long journey ahead before it can contend with the big UK players at the top of the pecking order.

Considering the many benefits that Roku presents to viewers, it is evident that the potential to dominate the UK market is there. As global streaming figures continue to rise year on year, Roku must continue to innovate and deliver features that set it apart from the competition to capitalise on the uptake of viewers if it stands any chance of taking over the UK, and with the recent news of its introduction of its new TV models into the UK, Roku is already making solid progress. As one of the leading global streaming platforms, and with huge potential in the UK after major success in the US, Roku should be an integral platform for your connected TV strategy.