What You Need to Know about the Big 3 OTT Platforms: Roku

By Chris Smith on July 27, 2016

In a world drowning in OTT devices, there has to be a few that rise to the top. This is Part 2 of a 4 part series putting a spotlight on the Big 3 OTT Platforms to keep your eye on. Don’t forget to read Part 1 for a rundown of the 5 OTT platform characteristics that content owners should care about.

Just Released! OTT and Beyond — The Ultimate Guide for Your OTT Service is the perfect asset to guide you through the process of launching and scaling your on-demand or live video business into an OTT service. Get it now.

Roku is the first of the Big 3, and it’s an interesting piece of tech. It’s the only OTT platform that made a name for itself as an OTT platform before doing anything else. The other devices on the list are backed by major companies and have their hands in other hardware and businesses, but Roku is focused on its OTT platform.

Roku means one thing: a streaming device. That’s pretty impressive, since Roku has become one of the most trusted names for household set-top boxes out there and is a testament to the quality of tech that it offers both customers and content owners.

Let’s evaluate it, based on the most important components of evaluating an OTT platform.


1. Consumer Ease of Use

Roku is an OTT platform that is easy to navigate and has a user-friendly interface. There’s also a voice search feature via the Roku remote, which makes it much easier for those who are unable to manually search to access content.

Physically, Roku devices are tiny, portable, and easy to set up. They have only the necessary ports, and, other than the streaming stick, only take two cables to set up (power + HDMI). They connect to the internet wirelessly, unless you’d like to hardwire, in which case an Ethernet port is available to jack in.

The remotes are also simple and ergonomic, offering dedicated buttons to access the most-used apps, like Netflix. Some of the newer models also include motion sensing and standard headphone jacks so you can watch a movie while your kids are asleep in the next room (or vice versa). Another wonderful thing is the Roku app for mobile, which is robust enough to search and find content, but it also acts as another remote if you happen to lose your original. Or, you know, if it’s across the room and you already sat down. You can even cast certain media from your device to the Roku, just like you would with a Chromecast.


2. Discovery

Content owners also have several ways they can be discovered on Roku.

New channels are automatically featured in the “new” section of the website, which provides basic promotion and exposure.

For a fee, you can also showcase your channel under the Featured section. Roku also includes banner advertising of available channels in the channel store. If you decide to put content on Roku, your videos will also be searchable and have web presence.


Search also includes deep linking, so you can search within apps, not just for the app itself

The Roku Channel Store is also an extremely powerful tool for discovery. It bridges the online world to the offline, TV world. If you choose to promote your channel in an email, newsletter or social media (you should!), the your channel’s page in the Roku Channel Store pulls up an accessible interface that gives your target audience the option to click “Install Channel.” The next time they use their Roku, your channel is automatically installed and available for your new audience member.

Not to mention, Zype has a direct relationship with Roku and can help you navigate the options of free or paid on-device promotion that can help boost discovery.

Bob Ross is a perfect example of a content creator that has flourished on the Roku device.


3. Monetization Capabilities

Roku is pretty flexible with monetization routes and supports all possible methods. That means AVOD, SVOD, and TVOD — including rentals and passes. If you decide to promote native subscriptions, Roku take 30% of your revenue.


4. Audience Reach and Ecosystem

Roku is considered to have the largest available market of any of the OTT devices out there. It’s true, if you have a Roku device, you have access to 4,000+ channels, offering hundreds of thousands of movies, TV episodes, and great content overall. That’s seriously impressive! Plus, Roku attracts a mainstream audience and does not limit itself to particular niches or population sectors.


5. Ability to Execute

How easy is it to execute? Well, there’s room to improve. Even though Roku has a pretty easy to use interface, the design patterns are a bit bulky, so a sleek channel may not be in the cards or may require custom development work. In terms of taking the channel live, Roku’s Quality Assurance (QA) times vary significantly, so there’s no guaranteed timeline for going live, though Zype’s experience is typically 4-6 weeks.

That can be frustrating, but not a deal breaker, and it doesn’t seem like those few downfalls are significant enough to stop content owners.


Honestly, we only really needed to tell you that Roku has the largest marketplace of any streaming device out there right now. That’s a big enough reason to include it in our Big Three list, let alone enough reason that you should be embracing the OTT platform entirely.

Even though the QA times vary,  once you’re approved for the store, the discovery options available for your channel are very, very nice. Plus everything about the system screams quality, so it’s no wonder Roku was able to make a name for itself early on when OTT streaming was just ramping up.

Don’t miss out on Roku. In fact, you should probably consider combining your efforts on Roku with the next two OTT platforms on our list, too. Stay tuned for Part 3 and Part 4 as we fill you in on the strongest OTT devices that you just can’t afford to ignore!

Harness the power of Zype's video infrastructure