Having already made first-party audio work nearly seamlessly with its own televisions and wireless speakers , Roku today announced a new platform that aims to do the same with third-party audio devices.
"Roku TV Ready" is a new standard that will "allow consumer electronics companies to partner with Roku to help their product work seamlessly with Roku TV."
First up in this new endeavor is home audio — particularly soundbars and receivers. The gist is that an audio device that is "Roku TV Ready" will be easier to connect, and controllable directly from the Roku TV remote control. That first part is a big deal — there's almost no bigger frustration than connecting an audio device to a Roku TV only to have the HDMI handshake fail. And CEC — which theoretically allows a TV's remote control to manage other devices isn't as reliable as we'd like to think it is.
Thus, Roku TV Ready.
Fixes won't be immediate, however. Roku TVs will need to be updated with the new protocol, of course. And Roku itself will handle that. But the audio manufacturers will need to adopt Roku TV Ready in their products, too. And they absolutely must update currently lineups or risk attracting the ire of consumers struggling with speakers that sound great in certain circumstances, but still are plagued by connection problems. (I'm specifically thinking of my Roku TV paired with a Vizio soundbar, which very much suffers from this problem.
We've got a handful of manufacturers already on board. TCL and Denon (via its umbrella company Sound United) are first up, and that's a start. TCL is an unsurprising partner, given that it's a major (if not the biggests) manufacturer of Roku TVs. (By the way, Roku says one out of every three new smart televisions sold is running the Roku operating system.)
Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, though — but we need to see more major manufacturers get on borad, too.
Roku Announces "Roku TV Ready" Program; Denon and TCL North America to Launch First Products
New Home Entertainment Program Enables Third-Party Consumer Electronics Products to Work Seamlessly with Roku TV models Giving Consumers Incredible Ease of Use
LAS VEGAS (CES). – Jan. 6, 2020 – Roku, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROKU) today announced Roku TV™ Ready, a new program that allows consumer electronics companies to partner with Roku to help their products work seamlessly with Roku TV for an incredible home entertainment experience. The first partners under the program are TCL North America and Sound United, parent company to Denon, Polk Audio, Marantz, Definitive Technology and Classé, which will feature Roku TV Ready products for select brands later this year.
Products under the program will display a Roku TV Ready badge on marketing materials to identify that they have been tested and certified to work effortlessly with the Roku TV, offering smooth setup, easy on-screen access to sound settings and volume control with one remote. Consumer electronics companies can add Roku TV Ready functionality at no additional cost to their products.
"Our goal is to make the TV experience incredibly simple, accessible and fun. Roku devices continue to delight millions of consumers for these reasons. And now with this new program we hope to make it super easy to setup and control soundbars and audio/video receivers using just a Roku TV remote," said Mark Ely, Vice President, Retail Product Strategy at Roku. "Meanwhile, consumer electronics brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts."
"Denon is consistently at the forefront of technology trends and services. Our joining the Roku TV Ready program demonstrates a continued dedication to this ethos while offering consumers an incredible value, endless entertainment and new features delivered over time," said Brendon Stead, Senior Vice President Product Development at Sound United, parent company to Denon. "The Roku TV Ready program enables Denon users to easily access Denon product features via the Roku TV Remote, among other features. In the name of seamless entertainment, this is a boon for watchers everywhere."
"TCL and Roku have been working to deliver incredible home entertainment innovation to consumers for many years and we're thrilled to be extending our partnership to home audio compatibility," said Chris Larson, Senior Vice President, TCL. "As America's fastest-growing TV brand, we're focused on providing a first-class home theater experience and a big part of that is ensuring consumers know their TCL television will work well with other products throughout the home."
TCL will be the first to announce support for Roku TV Ready, with more details to be shared at their press conference later today. Sound United will deliver Roku TV Ready to soundbars under the Denon brand via a software update later this year. Roku TV Ready features are expected to be delivered to Roku TV models via the Roku operating system in the coming year. Consumer electronics companies who want to work with Roku can contact OEM@roku.com.
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