Roku is expanding beyond the U.S. market, announcing Thursday morning that its streaming set-top boxes will go on sale in Canada and the U.K. beginning in early 2012. The announcement will add millions of new potential customers not just for Roku, but could help Netflix gain adoption in those international markets as well.
Roku currently has more than 350 choices available through its channel store in the U.S., including apps from video publishers, streaming music distributors, social networks and most recently games. But U.S.-specific applications — like Hulu Plus, for instance — won’t be available as Roku will support region-specific channels in the new international markets.
Roku has grown pretty dramatically since launching its in 2008, and especially over the last year. The startup has introduced four new products in the last six months, including three Roku 2 boxes that include casual gaming capabilities and the $49 Roku LT. It’s also expected to grow from a million units sold by the end of 2010 to more than 3 million by year-end 2011.
For Roku partners that operate internationally, the low-cost streaming box also could provide greater monetization opportunities through sales to user who want to stream video and other services to their TV screens. One such content partner is Netflix, which launched in Canada late last year, and has announced plans to enter the U.K. market early next year.
That partnership is long-running, as Roku was the first non-PC device that Netflix was available on in the U.S., and Netflix was the initial content partner for the Roku streaming box. Both have since added a number of partners since then: There are hundreds of apps on Roku boxes, and Netflix is now available on more than 700 connected devices.