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Roku to continue selling at Walmart despite Vizio acquisition, CFO says

A key Roku executive says the company will still offer its product at Walmart stores despite the retailer's planned acquisition of a rival smart TV company.

A key Roku executive says the company will still offer its product at Walmart stores despite the retailer's planned acquisition of a rival smart TV company.

The home screen of a Roku device.
The home screen of a Roku device. (Graphic by The Desk)

Roku will not stop offering its low-cost streaming devices and smart TVs in Walmart stores, even though the retailer has plans to acquire a rival connected TV manufacturer, a company executive affirmed this week.

Speaking at an investor event held by KeyBanc on Wednesday, Roku’s Chief Financial Officer Dan Jedda said the company was “not surprised” and “very prepared” when Walmart affirmed it was buying Vizio for $2.3 billion last month.

Roku and Vizio compete in the streaming TV space in two big ways: With a suite of TV-based products that connect film and TV fans to streaming service providers and content, and a robust digital advertising business that is quickly eclipsing hardware sales at both companies.

Walmart’s acquisition of Vizio is viewed as capitalizing on the latter point — a way for the retailer to expand its digital advertising business by targeting Vizio’s 18 million-plus streaming TV users and leveraging its robust digital ad platform that the company has built over the past few years.

Analysts raised questions about what Walmart’s acquisition could mean for Roku, given that the companies have enjoyed a good relationship over the past decade. Walmart is one of the largest sellers of Roku’s budget streaming devices and smart TV — Walmart’s Onn brand licenses Roku for its TV sets, and the retailer is the exclusive seller of a sub-$20 Roku player around the holidays.

Dan Jedda, the Chief Financial Officer at Roku. (Courtesy image)
Dan Jedda, the Chief Financial Officer at Roku. (Courtesy image)

On Wednesday, Jedda said that relationship will remain strong, and that Walmart’s purchase of Vizio might actually open up new opportunities for both companies.

“We will continue to work with Walmart,” Jedda affirmed. “We have a great relationship with them, and they’ll continue to sell Roku TVs.”

Jedda said Roku was approached by “other distributors” who engaged in “proactive talks” with the company following the Walmart-Vizio announcement, though he did not offer specifics about those conversations. In addition to Walmart, Roku products are available at competing retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Target, and Roku also operates its own online store where Roku streaming pucks, sticks, sound bars and TVs are sold directly to consumers.

Appearing with Jedda at the conference, Roku’s Vice President of Investor Relations Conrad Grodd said the acquisition was likely to impact Roku’s ability to be the operating system that powers Walmart’s Onn brand of television sets.

That said, Jedda affirmed Roku’s TVs and streaming pucks will remain available for Walmart customers who prefer their platform over others. He also said Roku’s own line-up of TVs has expanded beyond an exclusive arrangement with Best Buy, which has offered them since they debuted last year. Now, Roku TVs are available at Amazon, Costco and the Walmart website, and the company is seeking more distribution opportunities for that product line.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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