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CES Report: Roku Looks at the Future of Streamed Entertainment

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"The future of television will be streamed in a variety of different ways," said Doug Craig, head of programming for Roku. Craig was speaking on the panel "Monetizing Smart Home Solutions and Connected Devices," part of the Connections Summit taking place during International CES 2015. The conversation was less about monetization, however, and more about what today's viewers want.

The TV landscape is shifting fast, Craig said. In the world his company envisions a handful of operating systems will control most of the television viewing. Roku is now expanding into TVs, working with partners that include TCL, Hisense, and Insignia. There won't just be one winner in the new TV future, Craig said, but many. Roku, not surprisingly, hopes to be one of them.

It's important to remember that there are still only a small group of people watching streaming content, Craig noted. There's tremendous growth still to come, and he believes that the rising tide will lift all boats. Awareness is still a big issue, as many viewers don't know what they could stream or how to do so. That's partly why Roku is transitioning to a more service-oriented company than a device-maker—not that it's going to stop making devices.

"it's such a nascent category still," Craig said

While his title—head of programming—sometimes confuses people since Roku is a platform for content providers, Craig pointed out that Roku recently launched its first original show: Roku Recommends. The show helps people discover content they wouldn't have known about.

"It's a way for us to help break through the clutter," Craig said.

The longer people use a device, Craig added, the more likely they are to settle down to a few core favorite channels and not look around. Awareness is a constant battle.

The panel was moderated by Barbara Kraus, director or research for Parks Associates, who pointed out that two-thirds of U.S. broadband-enabled households now have at least one connected consumer electronics device.

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