Roku pals with News Corp. for $45m hardware and content investment

Roku will use a $45m investment round to develop new digital media devices and services, after securing the backing of News Corp., BSkyB and others to build out its streaming platform. A combination of cash and "business agreements" are included in the deal, with Roku intending to increase its international footprint and "increase engineering and production" with further pushes into advertising, games, transactional and pay-per-view video along with content packages.

Roku is known for its range of eponymous set-top boxes, which provide a straightforward way to supply internet-based media to a regular TV. Originally focused on Netflix, Roku expanded its platform with various other "channels" for other providers, adding in games and more. Next up – on the public roadmap, anyway – is the Roku Streaming Stick, which will provide a more discrete way of accessing Roku services.

"The streaming stick is Roku's first step in expanding its platform from streaming players to Smart TVs and other devices connected to the TV" the company said today in a statement [pdf link]. "With the News Corporation and Sky strategic relationships, we are poised to further grow our leadership position and to become the TV distribution platform of the future."

While the financial backing will undoubtedly help Roku keep its R&D labs running for a while longer, it's the unspecified business agreements that could have the biggest impact. Exactly what has been promised as part of the new deal hasn't been revealed, but with News Corp. running Fox, Sky Sports, National Geographic, and dozens of other TV services, not to mention film studios and digital content, it might mean a fresh flush of channels for Roku users.

Meanwhile, News Corp.'s chief digital officer Jon Miller will join the Roku board of directors as a side-effect of the deal.