Roku has gone mainstream.
The streaming TV hardware company on Wednesday announced it now has 51.4 million active user accounts, making it one of the largest streaming TV platforms in the world.
“I’m excited that more than 50 million households now turn to Roku for their TV viewing,” Anthony Wood, Roku’s chief executive, said in a statement on Wednesday. “The world is moving to streaming and we look forward to continuing to help viewers, advertisers, content publishers, and TV manufacturers succeed in the [next decade].”
Roku shipped its first streaming TV box in 2008, which was one of the first ways for consumers to watch what was then a fledgling streaming service by Netflix on the big screen.
Since then, the company has expanded its line of streaming hardware devices, from the ultra-cheap Roku SE that is typically sold around Christmastime at Walmart for as little as $18 to the feature-packed Roku Ultra that costs closer to $100. Roku also licenses its operating system to TCL, Hisense, Element and other TV makers.
In 2009, the company introduced the Roku Channel Store, becoming the first streaming TV hardware maker to offer users the ability to download and install streaming apps from hundreds of services and developers.
Thank you, streamers! Today, we announced preliminary estimated data as of Dec 31, 2020:
📈 51.2M active accounts
📺 58.7B hours streamed in 2020
— Roku (@Roku) January 6, 2021
At the time, Roku welcomed all developers with open arms, allowing anyone to create and distribute a streaming TV app for its devices. But in recent years, Roku has shifted its strategy to that of a gatekeeper: Last year, it famously feuded with Comcast and AT&T over startup streaming services Peacock and HBO Max until the companies agreed to a set of conditions regarding commercial ad inventory. The stalemate prevented Roku’s users from accessing Peacock and HBO Max for weeks. (Both apps are now available to Roku users.)
The feud apparently didn’t have much of an effect on Roku’s growth: In a blog entry on Wednesday, Wood revealed the company added 14 million user accounts in 2020 alone, one of the biggest growth periods in the company’s history.
“Roku is filled with smart and dedicated people who work every day to create the future of TV, with a focus on innovation and creating the best possible experience for our viewers,” Wood said. “We celebrate this milestone with all of you.”