Roku plans to integrate 4K streaming services in new TCL TV sets

By Jim O'Neill on Jan 05 2016 at 6:45 AM
Roku plans to integrate 4K streaming services in new TCL TV sets

Virtual reality is making big headlines at CES this year, but 4K/UHD remains a major staple of the show after making a big splash last year.

Roku this week said it plans – along with hardware partners TCL, Hisense and Haier – to introduce some 60 models that have company’s streaming platform built in to them in 2016, up from 40 this year, and said some of them will be 4K UHD screens.

The company said it expects to have the first 4K UHD TVs, made with partner TCL, in stores this spring, and said the sets will include its 4K Spotlight Channel. Models from other partners are expected to be available later tis year.

The company said its integrated TVs now have 8% of the U.S. smart TV market, with about one million units sold.

“We’re very pleased with the success of Roku TV since the launch of our licensing program in 2014,” said Chas Smith GM of OEM for Roku. “Our TV partners have secured great retail placement and stellar product reviews that have led to strong sales results,” adding that Roku is working to add new TV partners and to expand existing partnerships to bring more TV models to the U.S., Canada and soon Mexico.

Also coming this year will be the Roku TV HDR reference design for TV partners to incorporate HDR technology into future 4K UHD Roku TV models. The company plans to implement support for Dolby Vision HDR into the reference design. The TV HDR reference design will also include support for the HDR 10 standard. TCL will be an initial TV partner to integrate the Roku TV HDR reference design.

Is 4K really the future? TV OEMs hope so

Content for 4K remains an issue – it’s in short supply, but it is beginning to grow.

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime want to make the availability of 4K one of their differentiators, and satellite providers see it as an opportunity as well.

For operators, 4K/UHD may be a critical step to take in the battle to attract and keep Millennial viewers, an audience segment expected to glom onto the new format.

For TV manufacturers, 4K TV is the next “great hope” they expect to drive the market.

Researcher IHS said shipments of 4K sets in the U.S. topped 6 million units in 2015, and expects that number to reach 12 million in 2016.

About 43 million TV sets were sold in the U.S. in 2015, down slightly from a year ago.

Stay tuned.

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