Updated. Roku has confirmed that it’s struck a retail partnership to sell its broadband set-top boxes in Walmart stores. But the deal comes without the help of Netgear , whom Roku had partnered with last year to extend its reach into major retail outlets.
Speculation that Roku and Walmart had partnered began as its devices popped up on the Walmart website last week, and the companies have released a press release confirming the deal. Walmart will sell the middle-of-the-road Roku XD player, with the box showing up in stores ahead of Father’s Day. The Roku XD will go on sale for $78, a few bucks less than at most other retail outlets, where it typically sells for $79.99.
Striking a direct relationship with Walmart makes sense, as it will give Roku a huge new retail footprint to reach consumers. That will be necessary as the set-top box maker hopes to expand beyond the early adopter set that has largely made up its customer base. Roku announced late last year that it had sold about a million devices in the first few years of its operations. But it’s looking to aggressively ramp up sales and expects to end 2011 with more than 3 million boxes sold.
At the same time, it throws into question a partnership that Roku announced last year with CE maker Netgear, which had agreed to sell co-branded streaming devices through its retail partners. After striking retail partnerships with Walmart and Best Buy, it appears that Roku is focusing less on the Netgear deal and more on direct relationships with big-box retailers.
We’ve reached out to Roku for official comment on what this means for its Netgear relationship and will report back when we have an official statement.
Update: A Roku spokesperson confirms that its partnership with Netgear ended in 2010, and it is now selling products under its own brand directly to retailers.