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Did you know: Roku was nearly a part of Netflix

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The first Roku device was developed at Netflix, but a quick business decision changed streaming history and the Netflix Player was no more.
Roku is a household name in the United States, making some of the best and most popular streaming devices on the market. But did you know that Roku was very nearly a part of Netflix? In fact, it was Netflix engineers that developed the first Roku device. It was slated to launch in 2007, the same year that Netflix launched its now-ubiquitous video-on-demand service. But just a few weeks before this “Netflix Player” came to market, the strategy shifted and it was instead spun off into its own company. Here’s the full story, but first a bit of context. A bygone era It’s easy to forget in today’s streaming-centric society that things were very different back in 2007. Netflix’s main business was mail-in DVD rentals, and the entire concept of video streaming was in its infancy. Even early versions of Vimeo and YouTube were just starting to get off the ground. They launched in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Unlike its primary rival Blockbuster, Netflix saw the writing on the wall. Seeing the writing on the wall for DVD rentals, it launched a video streaming service in early 2007. This was just before the launch of the first iPhone, and well before our lives moved to smartphones and digital platforms. To help get the fledgling video streaming service off of subscribers’ computers and onto their television sets, Netflix needed a new type of device. DVR boxes like TiVo were commonplace at that point, but they only allowed you to record broadcast television locally — not stream it from a remote server. Read also: Here are the 7 best live streaming TV services While Netflix’s streaming catalog slowly grew slowly from the roughly 1000 movies initially offered, the company secretly put together an internal team to develop this new streaming box.

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