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Roku Rooting for Pay TV Growth

SAN FRANCISCO — Roku is often viewed as a tool for cord-cutters because it’s a major source of over-the-top video, but the streaming platform has also managed to forge a friendship with traditional pay TV.

“We get painted with that cord-cutter brush like we’re the enemy of pay TV,” Steve Shannon, Roku’s general manager of content services, said during a keynote discussion with Broadcasting & Cable contributor George Winslow at the Next TV Summit here. “But that being said, we don’t root for the demise of pay TV at all. In fact, we’d like to see it grow … we just want it to be on our platform.”

Roku has put those words into action with cable MSOs Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, which offer authenticated apps for the Roku platform and more integrated partnerships.

TWC, for example, is testing a set of Internet-protocol TV tiers in New York for broadband-only subscribers that use the Roku in lieu of a traditional set-top box (see cover story). Charter Communications is doing something similar with its trials of Spectrum TV Stream, an offering that starts at $13 for the broadcast-TV channels, plus HBO or Showtime.

“The more money that’s flowing through the pay TV ecosystem, the better off we are, so we partner very closely with cable operators and cable networks … to help them be successful in a streaming environment and to grow their business,” he said.

Shannon reiterated that Roku has no plans to sell content directly to consumers, as Amazon, Apple and Google do.

“It’s a differentiator from our competition in that we don’t compete with our content providers,” he said.