A Conversation with Roku's Anthony Wood

A few weeks ago I caught up with Anthony Wood, who as many of you know was the founder of ReplayTV, where he (along with TiVo) ushered in the era of on-demand viewing with the DVR.

Nowadays, Wood keeps himself occupied with his new company Roku, which sells small boxes that help consumers do what many believe - including Wood himself - is the future of TV entertainment: streaming. 

During our conversation, we covered quite a few topics. Here are a few highlights:

  • Wood no longer uses a DVR. Instead, he streams shows using (what else) a Roku player.
  • Wood’s biggest lesson from his time at ReplayTV was that not playing nice with the rest of the ecosystem will suck your company dry of energy and resources. This is why Wood’s new company, Roku, does play nice with the big players in the content world.
  • Roku is adding more than one channel a day, and today they have over 600 channels
  • The company has over 20 thousand registered developers for Roku (though not all of these are active)
  • Roku has shipped well in excess of 3 million streaming devices to date.

Perhaps the biggest news of the conversation was Wood’s explanation about why YouTube is currently not on Roku.

The reason Wood gave for the lack of YouTube on Roku’s boxes today is that the Google YouTube app requires the use of HTML, and since this app must be used with any YouTube implementation, the company decided that it didn’t want a disappointing experience.  In other words, they felt performance of the YouTube app would not be up to their quality standards given silicon in their current generation of players is not high-powered enough to render at an acceptable fidelity.

Wood went on to say that he it while he can’t tell us when exactly YouTube will be on Roku, he doesn’t think “it’s that far away.”

I’d encourage you to listen to the entire podcast, which has a whole bunch more than I’ve highlighted above. 



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