Roku is all in on new televisions, as evidenced by the unveiling of its Pro Series smart TVs. But what about its streaming set-top boxes?
The Roku streaming player, after all, is what got the company into the business, with the boxes allowing people to turn their old TV into a smart one, complete with a connected TV operating system. It’s since grown to include streaming sticks, a smaller Express box, and a Steambar integrated speaker. But the last truly new device was an updated Roku Express player — which superficially looked identical to the previous model — that came out in 2022. It also offered a “new” Ultra that year, but it was identical to the prior model and was bundled with its Remote Pro.
Since then, it’s been silent on the Roku hardware front, with 2023 marking the first time in nearly a decade that the company didn’t release a new streaming device. So what gives?
It turns out, the company doesn’t see a compelling reason for an upgrade yet.
It all comes down to the available semiconductor, and whether there’s an advancement in that area to move the needle on the Roku experience, said Chris Larson, vice president of Roku’s retail strategy. So far, nothing “earth-shattering” when it comes to available components, with any speed or performance boost not enough to justify new hardware. As a result, Roku has held off on creating new streaming devices.
Larson, speaking to media in a late December call to discuss the new Pro Series TVs, said its family of streaming players remain important to the lineup. He added that Roku player sales are the same as TV sales. He addressed the lack of a substantial update but arguing that it’s actually a positive for its customers.
“It’s a great consumer benefit that a two-year-old player still performs like a new player from our competitor,” Larson said during a call with reporters in late December. “A $50 device that lasts 5 years is unheard of in this industry.”
What Larson didn’t address was whether we would see another Roku streaming device in the near future. Roku traditionally releases new products in the summer or fall, so there are months before we’ll see if a new Ultra, Express, Streaming Stick, or Streambar arrive.
But with the expansion of the Roku TV family to include the Pro Series to join the Select and Plus lines, it’s clear where the company’s priorities are now.
Image credit: Roku