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Amazon and Roku Are Battling for Supremacy in Europe

By Danny Vena - Sep 15, 2019 at 3:03PM

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Back-to-back announcements show the competition is heating up in the streaming device market abroad. (AMZN 1.71%) recently announced a new lineup of devices and several product partnerships designed to expand the reach of its Fire TV in Europe. The e-commerce giant introduced a soundbar and next-generation Fire TV Cube, as well as a number of Fire TV Edition smart TVs in collaboration with a variety of manufacturers -- with more than 20 new products in all -- that will be available to European consumers in the coming year.

Fire TV has faced increasing competition from the biggest names in the tech industry, including the Google Chromecast, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, and Apple TV. Surprisingly, its No. 1 rival was a lesser-known hardware provider which has grown its reach to dominate all comers in the U.S. market -- streaming device pioneer Roku (ROKU 4.75%).

A television in a living room, showing viewing options.

Hisense is Roku's first European connected-TV partner. Image source: Roku.

Now, it appears the battle is on in Europe.

Worldwide ambitions

Just days after Amazon's product reveal, Roku made its own announcement. At the IFA 2019 Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin, the company detailed a new licensing agreement with Hisense to bring the first Roku-branded TV to the United Kingdom, which is expected to be rolled out by the end of the year.

Roku developed an operating system (OS) that was specifically designed for internet-connected TVs, giving it the edge over rivals that use a modified mobile OS. This not only makes the devices more user friendly but also provides manufacturers with a cost-effective solution that eliminates the need to develop and maintain a proprietary system of their own.

This strategy has helped Roku become the No. 1 television streaming platform in the U.S. When Roku reported its second-quarter financial results, the company revealed that more than one in three smart TVs sold in the country so far this year were powered by Roku's technology. That's not all. A recent study by Parks and Associates found that Roku devices made up 39% of the installed base of streaming media players in the U.S., compared with just 30% for Amazon products. 

It's important to note that worldwide, Amazon has the edge with streaming viewership. The company announced last week that Fire TV devices had 37 million active users across the globe, compared to Roku's 30.5 million.

A proven strategy

Roku is planning to take the successful template it employed in the U.S. and use it to conquer the European market. The company has only just begun its international expansion, but many believe the company is destined to succeed -- even against the likes of Amazon.

William Blair analyst Ralph Schackart recently compared Roku's growth trajectory to that of streaming leader Netflix (NFLX 1.28%). "In our view, Roku will experience similar phased stages of international growth as Netflix did during its international expansion," he said. "Looking at Roku's most recent nine quarters against those of Netflix in the beginning stages of Phase II, Roku, on average, achieved 9% quarter-over-quarter growth, compared with Netflix's average of 8%."

To put that into perspective, Netflix currently boasts more than 151 streaming subscribers worldwide, with 91 million of them overseas. This illustrates the potential for international growth that exists for Roku -- even in the face of major competition.

A lot of growth baked in

Roku has been one of the most successful stocks of 2019, gaining nearly 400% so far this year -- and that's even after a recent sell-off. Roku has yet to become profitable, as the streaming pioneer continues to use its resources to focus on its worldwide expansion. With a forward price-to-sales ratio of 16, the company has a lot of growth expectations already baked into its stock price.

Still, for investors with a long time horizon and a strong constitution, Roku has all the makings of a life-changing investment. Now, all the company has to do is continue to execute.

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Stocks Mentioned, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
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