Roku Should Be Worried? TCL Is Bringing Android TVs to America

Roku Should Be Worried? TCL Is Bringing Android TVs to America

Will U.S. customers bite?

TCL has had a great amount of success in recent years with its Roku TVs which, as of mid-2019, had lifted the Chinese company to the #1 spot in TV market share in the U.S.

But now, for the first time TCL is debuting TVs in the U.S. that use Google’s Android TV operating system rather than Roku’s, although the company will continue to also sell Roku TVs.

“As the landscape for streaming grows, customer demands call for multiple choices and TCL’s platform agnostic product offerings are poised to answer those needs,” TCL said in the announcement of the move late last week.

The new TVs are called the TCL 3-Series with Android TV, which are available exclusively, at launch, at Best Buy. They’re available in 32- and 40-inch classes, at $129.99 and $199.99, respectively, which are lower-priced than the Roku models.

“It is no secret that TCL’s rapid growth coincides with the increasing adoption of smart TVs, but this resounding success is largely due to our innovation, vertical integration, massive business scale and of course, strong relationships with partners like Roku,” Chris Larson, Senior Vice President for TCL North America, said as part of the announcement.

“Our award-winning TV lineup helped propel us into America’s second-largest TV brand just five years after we introduced our products in the U.S. and with those significant achievements, we believe this is the perfect time to deliver another option for consumers with Android TV.”

Android TV is Google’s TV operating system, which features built-in Chromecast as well as Google Assistant. Also, in one advantage over Roku, users can get HBO Max on the platform.

An analyst note in May suggested that Roku has benefited more from the“heavy lifting” of TCL in the companies’ partnership so far.

“The agreement has clearly been mutually beneficial from a market share perspective, but we believe ROKU has benefited tremendously from TCL’s heavy lifting,” analyst Kyle Evans of Stephens wrote in the note, per Seeking Alpha. Evans also stated that “the duration/magnitude of what we believe is ROKU over-earning vs. its most important partner.” Roku, per the note, has gained the advantages from post-purchase monetization.

In addition to TVs, TCL also recently began selling smartphones in the U.S., as well as the Alto 7+ soundbar.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.