What’s Up With Roku ?

Nothing in the world frustrates me more than Roku.

Roku is a company with a very simple product. A wifi connected device that loads apps from major OTT and traditional broadcast services onto a TV.

There are rival products from Now TV (using Roku technology), Amazon and inferior products from Apple and Google. Also, most smart TVs now have their own app stores, rendering Roku irrelevant.

In an age where TV channels have become apps, Roku is the potential gatekeeper.

When Roku went public earlier this year, it was lauded, but the reality is that the company has poor management and weak execution.

The Roku user experience is poor - the UI is laughable, the app store full of cluttered rubbish, but the hardware is pretty good.

But the biggest problem is that, as a cable cutting service, it lacks a razor and blades business model. The margin on its hardware devices must be tiny, and once inside people’s homes it generates very little income, pretty much the reverse to th business model if cable and broadband companies.

Roku should be the gateway to the new era of OTT TV, instead it is fast becoming marginalised.

Here is what I would do if running this company:

Provide an aggregated app that works across all devices, not just on a dongle. If you can watch a service on a Roku dongle you should be able to watch it on the Roku app.

Double up on metadata and search, capable of searching across the various apps on the platform.

Launch its own content services and help those wishing to launch their own channels on its service, perhaps by buying a company such as Massive.

Establish and impose design UI and UX standards which are currently sorely lacking and really improve the default interface design.

Provide a single payment mechanism across channels, services and events to cover subscriptions and one off events.