When it comes to video streaming devices, Roku, which is available in over 20 countries, is certainly gaining in popularity. The company recently announced that its active accounts increased to 61.3 million at the end of Q1 2022. During the same period, streaming hours on the platform grew to 20.9 billion. Given Roku’s popularity and expansion plans in Europe and Latin America, this presents an interesting market opportunity. Before looking at how to go about deploying on Roku, let’s go back to basics and examine what the company does and why it is so popular.
Why is Roku so popular?
Roku brings OTT services and channels (in other words, apps) together so that users can go to a single platform to find content to watch. While there is no subscription for Roku as a service, users can access paid subscriptions such as Netflix and Disney+ through the Roku platform. Users can choose from literally thousands of available services or channels. While massive, the vast volume of available content does not feel overwhelming because of the feature that allows users to add their favorite channels to their home screen. Roku also includes an intelligent universal search function that allows users to search across all services and channels, by title, actor, director and even by dialogue.
Channel development: generic or custom?
So, let’s say you’ve decided to go ahead and launch your service on Roku, what’s next? There are two main routes into Roku, either you use Roku Direct Publisher, or you could develop your own customized channel using Roku’s Developer SDK.
Direct Publisher is a free tool that creates a generic Roku channel without the need for any coding. While this may seem like the easy option, it doesn’t allow for any kind of customization, so your channel won’t stand out from the crowd, which is important given the number of other Roku channels available. In addition, there are also hidden costs. While Direct Publisher is free, it does not include a content delivery network, content feed or a web hosting service, all things that need to be created at additional cost.
Developer SDK, on the other hand, allows video service providers to develop a truly customized Roku channel. It includes consistent cross-platform user interface (UI) so the Roku app can be built to match UI of apps on other devices or platforms, strengthening your brand and making the UI consistent for end users. Unlike the generic app that can be built with Direct Publisher, with Developer SDK, the way that content is presented to users can be tailored, for instance to a carousel, grid, EPG view so you have greater control over user experience.
Developing your own custom channel also opens up a lot more opportunities for monetization, than you get with a generic Direct Publisher channel. This is because users can be billed though a variety of models including by subscription, with in-app transactions or with single one time pay-to-install fee.
Other functionality included in the Developer SDK is user authentication which allows users to restore own preferences, as well as, bookmarked content. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is all taken care of through secure content encryption. Lastly, when custom building a Roku channel, you have the ability to integrate third party analytics, to better understand how users are engaging with the content. We all know how important user experience is when it comes to developing and delivering a successful video service, and to improve user experience, you need to understand how users are engaging with the service, so this last point is really important.
Selecting the best provider to develop your Roku channel
So if you’re serious about deploying your video service to Roku, then it really makes sense to build a custom, high quality channel with Developer SDK so that you have full control over UI & UX.
There are lots of developers out there that can help you build the channel, so it is worth making sure you do your homework and select a provider that is experienced and has a proven track record when it comes to developing successful Roku channels.
Accedo ticks all of the right boxes because it has extensive experience of developing successful Roku channels across various content verticals including sports, entertainment and Pay TV. Roku recognises that Accedo has the expertise and experience to develop quality channels and as such has made Accedo a ‘Global Certified Partner’ as well as a ‘preferred developer’ in Latin America.
If you want to extend your reach and make your video service available to a wider audience, then including a Roku channel in your video service strategy is a smart move.
If you want to understand how Accedo can help you create and launch a high quality, engaging video service for deployment to Roku, get in touch.
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