Nearly 10 years after it shipped its first device, the streaming player service Roku has announced it is going public on the US’s Nasdaq exchange.
The US-based company is planning to raise $125m with its stock offering.
Roku’s founder and chief executive, Anthony Wood, said:
We are in the golden age of TV. Our mission is to be the TV streaming platform that connects the entire TV ecosystem.
What is Roku?
The company makes devices for streaming TV shows and movies, similar to Amazon’s Fire TV Stick or the Google Chromecast.
It shipped its first device back in 2008, which only offered Netflix to its earliest customers. However, it has since grown to be available in six markets, including the UK, Canada and France.
As well, it is now the number one TV streaming platform in the US measured by total hours streamed.
According to the company’s filing, there are more than 15.1m active Roku accounts and its customers had streamed more than 6.7bn hours of video in the first half of the year.
How does it work?
Roku is like a Sky box for the millennial generation.
Younger consumers are increasingly shunning traditional ways of watching TV and films, instead opting for Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions.
Roku bridges that gap. You plug in a Roku-powered streaming stick or set-top box and it turns your TV into a smart TV. It includes app such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer in the UK and HBO in the US.
As streaming has boomed, so has Roku.
For instance, Netflix announced it had over 100m subscribers earlier this year and demand doesn’t seem to be stopping. No wonder the company has chosen 2017 to go public.
Even if you’ve never heard of Roku, you might already have it in your home
Ever heard of Sky’s Now TV Smart box?
This is powered by Roku. Now TV users in the UK watch free and paid-for channels in the UK, have access to catch up services and the usual Roku-offered apps like Netflix.
Andrew Ferrone, Roku’s vice president of Pay TV, explains how the partnership works in a blog post:
The Roku powered program enables pay TV service providers such as Sky to license the Roku streaming platform and gain access to a simple and intuitive user interface, ongoing software updates, a broad selection of streaming entertainment and low-cost streaming players.
As well, some TV brands incorporate Roku’s software into their devices meaning you could be enjoying streaming services powered by Roku without even realising.
Why is it different?
It was one of the first companies to harness the power of streaming through traditional TV sets instead of through a PC or laptop.
What makes Roku different, however, from the likes of Amazon’s Fire Stick or Google’s Chromecast is that is allows offers subscription services as well as shows supported by ads.
The company has said its user base is happy to watch free content supported with advertising, allowing it to grow its ad revenues.
It reported revenues of $199.7m in the first half of this year, 46 percent of which was made up by subscription and ad revenues.