Roku doesn't want to be a company that only makes media-streaming players.
Over the past several years, Roku has diversified its products and expanded into the larger TV space. It really kicked off in 2014, when the company started making its own branded smart TVs that would run Roku software and be produced by Chinese manufacturers like Hisense and TCL. The company went public in 2017 after becoming profitable for the first time at the end of 2016.
For years, Roku made money in three main ways: selling streaming hardware, selling content sold through its software, and advertising. But thanks to moves made last year and this past week, Roku is trying to move into a new category that could prove lucrative in the long run.
Putting sound to the picture
This week, Roku announced two new home-audio products: a Smart Soundbar, and a Wireless Subwoofer.
These new speakers arrive just one year after the company released its first-ever audio products. Roku unveiled a pair of wireless speakers that work with your TV last July.
In true Roku fashion, the entire audio lineup is affordable:
- The Smart Soundbar costs $180.
- The Wireless Subwoofer costs $180.
- The pair of wireless speakers cost $200 in total (you can get them for $150 until the end of September).
Sonos is one of the perennial leaders in the home-audio space, so let's compare Roku's prices above to Sonos' equivalent products.
- Sonos' compact soundbar, the Beam, costs $400. Its high-end Playbar costs $700.
- Sonos' subwoofer, the Sub, costs $700.
- Sonos' wireless speakers, the One SL and One, cost $180 or $200 for a single speaker. They cost $360 or $400 for the pair.
The price is right
If you're in the market for home audio, and you're not an audiophile (and who wants to be that annoying, really), you're probably going to find Roku's products are "good enough" for what you need. Sonos speakers might have a bit more panache, but let's face it: Speakers are meant to be an accent to a room, not the main attraction. If you're using these speakers for your TV, you should be looking at the screen anyway.
This is a really smart move for Roku. There aren't too many affordable options in the home-audio space, but there should be — and Roku could fill a huge need there for people who want better sound in their homes but don't want to spend $1,000 to get there.
Look at it this way: You can buy all of Roku's audio products— the Smart Soundbar, Wireless Subwoofer, and the pair of Wireless Speakers — for less than the price of just one Sonos subwoofer, or that high-end Playbar.
It will be interesting to see what critics think of Roku's latest offerings, and how they stack up to more expensive competitors like Sonos. But Roku has a great reputation for making quality, affordable TV products, and these prices seem like a slam dunk for both the company and consumers — especially if other companies start changing their own prices to match Roku's.