As of the end of 2020, Roku reported over 50 million monthly active users in the United States alone, double what it was in 2018. The corporation’s market valuation currently stands at around 45 billion dollars, which makes it slightly smaller than Twitter, but larger than eBay. 

Roku is currently the largest streaming company in the USA, dominating the smart TV market in the country. But even outside the USA, media companies and content providers can no longer ignore the platform and are heavily investing in their presence on Roku.

BSG has recently earned the status of an official Roku development partner. In this article we detail what it actually means and how we got there.

 

About Roku

Roku is a leading US-based manufacturer of hardware digital media players and smart TVs. It’s also a fast-growing streaming platform that is already very popular in the USA. It is set to roll out its technology and services to the European market.

Roku’s devices offer simple access to streaming content from services such as Netflix, Apple TV, Disney Plus, and Prime Video. Its users can choose from more than 150,000 movies and episodes. 

The first device launched by Roku was introduced in 2008. From the onset, Roku boxes have been influential on the hardware player market. They popularized low-cost access to streaming among the steadily growing base of customers. In 2014 Roku released its branded Smart TVs which are manufactured by technological partners that include TCL and Hisense while Roku provides the proprietary interface. Newer models are also capable of receiving terrestrial signals combining traditional TV with a more sophisticated program guide and a feature that allows pausing live TV. 

From a technical point of view, Roku boxes run on a custom version of Linux. The system is simply called Roku OS. The manufacturer offers ongoing updates to the operating system by allowing the customers to download and install fixes, new features, and upgraded interface versions. 

Roku development partner

Project goal

At BSG we’ve been involved in the Roku platform since 2020. We decided to add skills relating to the Roku platform to our offer, as the imminent expansion of Roku in Europe means a new business niche will soon open up for local companies. At BSG we want to stay ahead of the competition and be ready to start projects around the newly arriving streaming services as soon as possible. 

That is why we decided to build two custom applications to become a Roku Development Partner. This allowed us to prove our competencies and go through the Roku certification process. 

As a result, we are now able to offer access to the platform to our partners, which is becoming increasingly attractive for providers already present on mobile devices, Apple TV, and Smart TV platforms with their OTT solutions. So far, our team has already completed a few Roku integrations for our European partners.  

Project overview

We started the project with a thorough analysis of the Roku platform, its capabilities, technical aspects, and limitations. We also wanted to understand how its users behave, and what their expectations are. By comparing it with other streaming services, like Apple TV, we also found ways in which we can use our previous experience and what new skills we would have to introduce to our team. 

Having understood the environment’s requirements we assembled a team consisting of a mix of analysts, developers, and testers. It was important that all team members were interested in learning new skills related to the new platform. 

An important part of the process was researching and analyzing user experience requirements. While Roku users are not entirely different from viewers using other streaming services and Smart TVs, they do have their specific habits and they are used to some visual patterns which must be taken into account during the design phase. 

Next, we worked on designing the interface, developing the front-end, and connecting it with our proprietary back-end solution. To assure the highest quality of the applications we also tested them thoroughly before launching them to the Roku Channel Store.

roku development partner

Challenges resolved in the project

One of the biggest business challenges in the project was finding relevant talent in the European market. This segment is nascent and specialists are still learning skills necessary for the Roku platform. The majority of engineers capable of developing projects in this area are located in the USA and India. 

That is why we believe that being one of the first European companies to enter the Roku platform development gives us the first-mover advantage in our region and offers a competitive advantage to our partners. Currently, we are one of just a handful of Roku partners in the region, of which we are proud. 

 

What was achieved

As part of the project, we built two applications to achieve the status of an official Roku Development Partner. They are:

  • The Better – video streaming service
  • The Better Radio – radio and audio streaming service 

The applications consist of a splash screen, menu, search engine, list grouping, favorites, and recently played listing. Both apps are available for free in the Roku Channel Store. 

Technology-wise, the applications communicate with our API. The configuration of the content is possible thanks to a CMS – a backend content management platform, which is a part of The Better portfolio. 

Our focus was also on responsive design. Depending on users and devices, sizes and resolutions of screens differ and thus the application has to easily scale and adapt to a variety of displays. The UI is intuitive and was created in a careful and systematic process to achieve a great user experience. 

Thanks to the Roku project we battle-tested our backend on a still slightly less popular platform. 

roku development partner

Lessons learned

We’ve learned that Roku is an intriguing platform that is set to make an even bigger impact on the streaming industry in the next few years. With its current position across the Atlantic, it has all that it takes to make its presence felt in Europe. 

The project we completed enables our partners who are currently familiar with other OTT environments to open a new revenue stream soon.

We also found out that Roku is fun and inspiring from a technological perspective, and we are looking forward to building more applications to the Channel Store. 

If you’re looking for a development partner with previous experience in smart TV applications and developing for the Roku platform, you’ve come to the right place. Drop us a line, tell us about your project, and see how we can help!

 


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