Roku has announced a major expansion of its deal with TCL, putting its OTT operating system into smart TVs that will hit shelves in Europe and South America later this year.
Chinese manufacturer TCL, which sells feature-rich smart TVs at a fraction of the cost of brands like Samsung, has quickly infiltrated the North American market, growing from just 1% of U.S. smart TV marketshare in 2017 to nearly a third in 2019.
Roku, which has had a partnership agreement to supply the OS for TCL smart TVs in place since 2014, has been along for the ride. The company said Wednesday during its Q2 earnings report that active accounts have 43 million, up 41% in 12 months. Sales of Roku-powered TCL TV sets are perhaps the biggest driver of this expansion.
However, Roku’s three years on the Nasdaq have been a roller coaster. And that volatility was negatively impacted in May when TCL announced that it would also sell in the U.S. smart TVs powered by Google’s Android TV OS.
With TCL engaging with another partner, one notoriously willing to sacrifice revenue split terms to grow the Android TV user base, investors found another thing to worry about, despite the Roku’s gaudy user growth metrics.
Roku competes globally with Amazon’s Fire TV platform. It’s far better infiltrated in the U.S. than Amazon. But Amazon is far more dominant in Europe and Latin America.
“Roku’s incredible brand recognition helped open the door for TCL with retailers and consumers. We look forward to rolling out more TV models with TCL in North America and seeing strong success in Europe and South America,” said Mustafa Ozgen, Senior VP and general manager of Roku’s Account Acquisition Business.
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