Roku: “Most smart TVs have lousy UIs”

Scott Rosenberg, Roku

Scott Rosenberg, Roku

Scott Rosenberg, vice-president of business development, content and services at Roku, discusses the company’s priorities when developing its new Roku 3 device, and the limitations of current smart TV models.

Scott will be speaking at the TV:Xperience event taking place in New York City on July 15th-17th. For more information and to register, please visit

Roku has enjoyed a strong start for the new Roku 3 player. What were your priorities when developing the new device?

The new Roku 3 is already very popular. We wanted Roku 3 to be the best streaming player we ever made, and given that we get a lot of high praise for our players we knew it needed to exceed consumers’ expectations.

It needed to be sleek, fast, easy to use and of course lets consumers discover and enjoy our wealth of content in a snap.

We also wanted it to have meaningful innovation, which is why we added the headphone jack to the remote control and included ear buds for private listening.

How have consumer perceptions of smart TV devices changed in recent years?

In the last four years, we’ve gone from zero recognition and understanding of the potential of OTT streaming, to it being a top-three feature that consumers look for in their TV experience.

At the same time, content choice has exploded. So we’ve moved through basic education, through early adoption, and are inflecting into mainstream.

With so many media streamers out there, Roku is in a highly competitive market. What is key to your differentiation strategy?

So many streamers, but most with very little penetration aside from Roku and Apple TV. Our consumer recipe is great value + incredibly easy and rewarding experience + best content selection.

On the B2B side of our business, we do a better job than anyone in the market in terms of on-boarding and driving our content partners’ success.

That’s a function of the platform (easy to develop to), a large installed base, great tools to market content to consumers, and a friendly business model.

While penetration of smart TVs continues to rise, many consumers still don’t hook them up to the Internet. Why do you think this is?

We believe there’s huge potential for smart TVs, but most smart TVs have lousy user interfaces and limited content choices. And in two years they’re out of date.

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  • I guess what I was getting at is that the user interface (the hardware controller) is what’s limiting the Roku from becoming “smart.” Just video/entertainment content doesn’t make a TV smart. It will be the App Store, the applications and services, the developers that will make next-generation TVs smart.

    jpark337 on Roku: “Most smart TVs have lousy UIs”

  • “Revolutionary user interfaces, lead to revolutionary products.” – Steve Jobs. There’s only so much you can do with a remote; we’ve tried 20 years with a keyboard in the living room, doesn’t work; NUIs are not a natural transition of PC capabilities (they’re efficient in controlling certain applications but fail in a universal sense), which is the common denominator between PC and mobile platforms, which is ultimately necessary for an N-screen solution.

    jpark337 on Roku: “Most smart TVs have lousy UIs”

  • Very good interview. Agree with the smart TV’s, totally rubbish interfaces at times. If anyone is thinking of buying Roku 3, I found this review that might be helpful

    Mikeyed on Roku: “Most smart TVs have lousy UIs”

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