Streaming Sticks and Boxes have taken a backseat to Smart TVs for Roku

Roku has been indicating that Smart TVs are more important than streaming sticks and streaming boxes with its hardware releases over recent years. The streaming juggernaut didn’t release any new standalone streaming sticks or boxes in 2023, which was a first for the company, but it did release its first home-grown smart TVs and countless 3rd-party smart TVs last year. Even though 2022 saw the release of a new Roku Express, it wasn’t much different from the model it replaced. There hasn’t been any significant non-TV hardware from Roku since 2021, which is when it released its Express 4K, Streambar Pro, Voice Remote Pro, Streaming Stick 4K, and Ultra LT. Roku is now further indicating that streaming sticks and streaming boxes aren’t as important as smart TVs with the announcement of a new line of first-party Roku Pro Series Smart TVs.

Even though Roku says it’s the “#1 selling TV operating system in the US,” it felt it necessary to follow in Amazon’s footsteps and announce its own brand of smart TVs last year. That led to the debut of the Roku Select Series HD, Roku Select Series 4K, and the Roku Plus Series 4K smart TVs. The just-announced Roku Pro Series smart TVs will enter the lineup as Roku’s more premium TV models, which will feature mini-LED backlights and AI-powered automatic picture adjustments. Little more is known about these TVs, but they will be available in 55, 65, and 75-inch screen sizes and will cost under $1,500 on release.

While users of Android-based streaming devices, like Fire TVs and Google TVs, will often disregard everything Roku is up to, the company’s recent focus on smart TVs is telling of where the streaming hardware market will likely move to in the coming years. Streaming sticks and boxes are far from dead, but we might not see new versions or innovative features released as frequently as before. Even though the cheapest 4K Firestick outperforms the vast majority of smart TVs, market trends are indicating that most people are fine with the often slow and laggy experience built into their smart TVs. That will surely lead to fewer streaming stick and box options, as Roku has indicated.

20 comments
  1. Robert Higgins says:

    Will never get Roku. No side loading apps

  2. AndreaG says:

    I don’t think so…limited choices for programming. Too many side-load options available. We seniors are becoming more tech savvy. I love my firestick and Nvidia Shield.

  3. Norm says:

    Roku is trash. Firestick or Android TV device is where’s it’s at. Can add 3rd party apps and combined with read Debrid, you can’t beat it. Keep your junk rokus and Roku TVs.

  4. Shirley Dulcey says:

    Streaming sticks and boxes will continue to matter for the foreseeable future. People will need something when their five year old smart TVs lose support from the manufacturer.

    • Gabriel Leontine says:

      Roku’s software support is one of the best I’ve seen, an example of this is the Roku TV launched in 2014 being updated until now.

  5. Derek Enochs says:

    I now have two Smart TVs and will never buy a smart one again unless the price is right. One is a 4K UHD 65 inch Roku and one is a 55 inch 4K Omni Series Fire TV. I only got the Roku (TCL) because of the price for $228. Both TVs WiFi are slow and the Ethernet LAN speed is only up to 100mbps. Instead I have two first gen 4K Max Fire sticks connected with an Ethernet hub on each for max speed. Again, I like the TVs as “TVs only” and I’ll never get a “smart tv” again when I can plug in a fire to stick.

    Side note- personally I despise Roku. I have it set up to when I turn it on it goes straight to the fire stick!!

    • Shirley Dulcey says:

      I have one of those Omni Fire TVs that I got cheap on Prime Day 2022 as a doorbuster. The WiFi is actually fast here (over 200Mbps), but I’m using it on a wired connection for reliability; only 100 Mbps, alas, though that’s enough for any streaming content I know about. (Things might be different if I were running a Plex server.) I haven’t felt any need to hook up a stick rather than using the built-in smart features.

      I know that the TV’s smart features will be obsolete long before it stops working as a TV. I’m prepared for the fact that someday I’ll have to buy a streaming device to connect to it, and it will be ready because it has four HDMI ports, only two of which are currently in use. But for me, that day has not yet come.

      It’s nearly impossible to buy a TV without any smart features in 2024. The finances of Vizio show one of the reasons for that; Vizio makes far more money by selling viewing data from their TVs than it makes on selling the TVs. I suspect the financials for Fire TV and Roku are similar; they’re selling the TVs to get the data, and so it would be less profitable to sell dumb TVs because that revenue stream would disappear.

    • tech3475 says:

      “I now have two Smart TVs and will never buy a smart one again unless the price is right.”

      These days all but the lowest of the low end seem to have some degree of smart functionality.

      Instead, I would choose models where it’s quite easy to ignore the smart stuff like my Samsung, LG and Vidaa powered Hisense.

      I only ever connect these to the internet for firmware updates.

      I’m also curious, what network speed are you getting on your Fire Sticks?

      • Derek Enochs says:

        I’m a cheap b@$t@rd (LOL) so I tend to buy my TVs on prime day and/or black friday. I choose my models by price and 4K viewing. I have Verizon FiOS. So with a 2 in 1 OTG splitter and USB w/Ethernet hub I’m getting 350 Mbps (down) speed on average with both Firesticks.

  6. Geoff says:

    You wouldn’t expect Roku PR to say anything else.
    I would never buy a Roku device, too many limitations.
    nVidia shield, Amazon device or even an android box would be better.

  7. Mike says:

    Im sorry but I will stick with external devices rather than the slow/never-updated-after-one-year built-in TV software. The problem that Roku has is they can’t compete with amazon &/or android on the low end to make a profit with their external sticks & pucks. Now that Apple lowered their Apple TV entry around $100 Roku can’t sell their ultra (which is the only Roku device worth buying imo) consistently around $100 which is what they want. Roku is now forced to lower the ultra between $65 & $85 just to get looks. Unlike Apple, Amazon, & Google Roku is not a tech behemoth and cannot afford losses on the hardware. This effort into the pro line of tv’s with Roku is a last ditch effort for the company to stay alive. Streaming ad revenue can only go so far. I haven’t purchased Roku hardware in 5 years because they took their #1 position for granted and fell behind. Roku needs to be bought by a competitor at this point.

    • Gabriel Leontine says:

      Software updates are not a problem for Roku TV, 2014 models are receiving new versions of the system to this day.

  8. Bacon says:

    It’s more that technology is at the point where you don’t need yearly refreshes on streaming boxes/sticks. The 2020 Roku Ultra supports hardware decoding of AV1 for example, something the latest Apple TV box doesn’t even do, as well as Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos so it’s covered as far as current streaming codecs etc are concerned. There will still be a new streaming box announced in 2024 by Roku, though.

  9. Tingo says:

    It’s a shame as roku are one of only 3 manufacturers that are fully lisenced for UK domestic tv, apple and Amazon being the others. I feel roku missed an opportunity, if they allowed side loading they may well have grabbed a mass of amazon customers who are fed up with ever increasing ads being forced onto fire devices. It’s the only reason my ss stick + is in box.

  10. mrvco says:

    External device please. Smart TV OSs try to present and monetize way too much with not enough options to customize or reduce the noise level. At least with external devices, if I get tired of one it can be easilly switched to another.

  11. Scott says:

    Honest question. I have a somewhat new Hisense Fire TV. It’s already getting pretty sluggish. I’m thinking of just getting a Fire TV 4K Max and plugging into it’s HDMI port and use that.

    Has anybody else here updated a “Fire TV” with a Fire TV Stick? And if so, what were your results?

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