Why doesn’t Roku offer a web browser?

A redditor wonders why Roku doesn’t offer a web browser. Only Roku employees know for sure, but we can make educated guesses.

First of all, and most likely, browsing the web just isn’t what Roku is designed to do and therefore not something that they would prioritize development or support (despite the many technologies Web implemented behind the scenes). But, while Roku doesn’t provide the processing power or the underlying Android-based framework of Fire TV, that’s not a technical limitation as we’ve been doing (badly) web TV for 25 years. . for example WebTV and my Sega Dreamcast. In fact, we have seen a few third party attempts on a Roku browser app, such as the ‘private channel’ Browser X.

Leading to point two. As pointed out on reddit, there is additional business considerations in-game. Roku acts as a massive content gateway, making deals with video providers and giving users (and those companies) a secondary entry to access the video could become counterproductive. Likewise, piracy was taken into account, which in fact resulted in a temporary halt in sales of streaming boxes in Mexico, followed by removal of “private channels” there and soon dropped off here in the United States as well.

But under what conditions can Roku make a browser available? Youtube. Google threatened to remove YouTube from Roku on December 9 due to the deadlock in retransmission negotiations around the YouTube TV channel. Without going into the trick he said / she said of public relations, if the two fail to strike a deal, Roku will lose one of the most popular video sources. And a browser app accessible at the YouTube URL may well help fend off a number of defections … like Advertising remains one of the main sources of income for Roku more fewer viewers also means less leverage for other retransmission agreements. Of course, Google would challenge such a decision and we might see history repeat itself when Google removed unofficial access to YouTube in 2011 – but it might save time.

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