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Roku Raises $45 Million From News Corp., BSkyB, Others

Internet set-top maker Roku has raised $45 million from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) and prior venture-capital investors Menlo Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners.

The funding brings Roku to $77 million raised to date.

Roku said an "unnamed strategic investor" also joined the round. The new relationships include both financial backing and business agreements that "demonstrate the industry's confidence in Roku as the leading distribution platform to bring streaming entertainment to mainstream consumers," the company said.

"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," News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller said in a statement. "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."

Saratoga, Calif.-based Roku said it will use the new capital for advertising, developing new international markets, and to 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.

This fall, the company expects to launch the Roku Streaming Stick, a USB-size wireless streaming device that plugs in to the back of compatible TVs and consumer-electronics devices.

Commented BSkyB chief financial officer Andrew Griffith, "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. Coupled with the ongoing 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."

Roku launched the first player to stream Netflix to the TV in 2008, and currently offers more than 500 entertainment channels to millions of customers. The company was founded by CEO Anthony Wood, who had been developing a streaming-media player at Netflix before the project was spun out as Roku.

Wood will remain chairman of Roku, and News Corp.'s Miller will join the board of directors.

"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," Wood said in a statement. "With the News Corp. and Sky strategic relationships, we are poised to further grow our leadership position and to become the TV distribution platform of the future."