Roku customers streamed 4 billion hours of video and music in the first six months of 2016, according to the company. Compare that with 5.5 billion hours in all of 2015. Additionally, there are over 10 million active Roku accounts using either the physical device or one of the 12 percent of smart TVs currently powered by Roku.
With over 3,500 apps available on Roku to stream video content, it can be daunting for creators and services to get their products in front of viewers. An added challenge is that all content creators have to have an app specifically for Roku users. But not all content creators are well-versed in building such apps.
Roku thinks it has a solution.
Publishers like Mashable, Rolling Stone and Cracked have been testing Roku Direct Publisher to help accelerate the process of getting in front of Roku's millions of active users.
Content creators will "automatically get included in Roku's unbiased universal search," said Bill Shapiro, Roku's director of project management. "When users are searching for the content they want, it'll be easier for them to find matching content."
And what are people searching for on Roku? "Free."
"We find that 'free' is one of the most-searched terms," said Scott Rosenberg, vp of advertising and audience development at Roku. When Roku users find free content, it's part of the ad-supported video-on-demand network that's the core of Roku's infrastructure. For example, half of the 250 most popular channels are ad-supported, despite the added hurdle of building an app.
Content creators who use the new service will also get access to the ad-support system. You can choose to let Roku handle video ads and monetization unless you already have that team and configuration in place.
"A lot of people worry that consumers won't accept advertising anymore," Rosenberg said. "But they just want value, and they accept ads as a part of that."
But will making it easier to create apps and channels flood the market? Will it become more difficult to surface your content on a system that already has thousands of apps and channels?
Maybe, maybe not.
At least now your content will have more of a shot of getting noticed without having to spend too much time and money building an app for yourself.