The little media streamer company that could, Roku, has gained some powerful friends in its latest round of financing, with $45 million in funds coming from the likes of BSkyB, News Corp and another partner who would prefer to remain nameless at this time, as well as previous investors Menlo Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners. While we leave you to ponder which company might be that unidentified source, Roku is simply continuing on, earmarking the money for use in building brand awareness, expanding internationally and much, much more. Also, that MHL-connected Roku Streaming Stick introduced at CES? It hasn't gone away and is still on track for launch later this year, with an eye towards providing a "Roku Inside" bundled experience for otherwise dumb flat-panel HDTVs.
Roku's alignment with BSkyB (which reported a $10m stake in its earnings this morning, as well as the option to distribute its own branded Roku hardware) makes sense after the pay-TV giant launched Now TV recently with the hockey puck as one of its supported platforms, while CEO Anthony Wood tells us the fruitful partnership with News Corp had its root in the Fox News, Wall Street Journal Live and X-Factor channels it launched last year. Wood cites plans to make Roku "the TV distribution platform of the future", and this fifth round of financing -- larger than all previous rounds combined -- may help push it in this direction, check out a few more details in the press release after the break.
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Roku Raises $45 Million from News Corporation, BSkyB and Others
Strategic Round Underscores Roku's Platform Lead as Content Distribution Moves to Internet
Saratoga, Calif. – July 26, 2012 – Roku Inc. today announced it has received a $45 million strategic investment. News Corporation, British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), prior Roku venture investors Menlo Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners as well as an unnamed strategic investor joined the round. The new relationships include both financial backing and business agreements that demonstrate the industry's confidence in Roku as the distribution platform to bring streaming entertainment to mainstream consumers.
Roku will use the new capital to build further brand awareness through advertising, develop new international markets, and increase engineering and production to support sales growth of both hardware and digital media services on the platform including advertising, games, transactional and pay-per-view video as well as content packages. In addition to its line of popular and award-winning Roku streaming players, the company will launch the Roku Streaming Stick this fall – a wireless, dongle-sized streaming device that seamlessly integrates with newer TVs and consumer electronics devices. The streaming stick is Roku's first step in expanding its platform from streaming players to Smart TVs and other devices connected to the TV.
"We have watched Roku maintain market leadership since the launch of its streaming platform four years ago and we look forward to deepening our relationship, having already worked closely together on the launch of several products," said News Corporation Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller. "Roku's significant technology advantage, coupled with a strong market position, places them in a unique position to be an integral part of the television landscape for years to come."
"We're delighted to have entered into this strategic relationship with Roku. As an innovative content company we're committed to embracing a wide range of complementary platforms to create more choice and flexibility for customers," said BSkyB Chief Financial Officer Andrew Griffith. "Coupled with the on-going strength of satellite distribution, online and mobile help us unlock even more value for customers. Working with Roku we look forward to extending our multi-platform leadership."
"Our philosophy is to give consumers the best streaming TV experience, with the most content and at the best value in the market; and it has served us well as millions of consumers have brought Roku into their homes," said Roku Founder and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wood. "With the News Corporation and Sky strategic relationships, we are poised to further grow our leadership position and to become the TV distribution platform of the future."
Jon Miller will join the Roku Board of Directors. Anthony Wood will remain Chairman of the Board.
About Roku Inc.
Roku is the leading streaming platform for delivering video, music and casual games to the TV. Roku launched the first player to stream Netflix to the TV in 2008, and today stream more than 500 entertainment channels to millions of customers. Roku streaming players can be purchased from Roku and major retailers in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. Headquartered in Saratoga, Calif.; Roku was founded by Anthony Wood, inventor of the DVR. For more information, visit www.roku.com.