A small group of users of Roku was all that Televisa needed to prohibit the sale of these devices in Mexico. Now that Roku won the last legal battle, what’s next?

Yesterday afternoon the last chapter ended a legal and media war fought for more than a year in Mexico. The ban on the sale of products of the US company Roku was lifted. Basically, it is a device that converts a television into a Smart TV. They develop an internet television platform that allows content creators’ channels to reach consumers directly and without intermediaries. If this sounds like a good thing to you, it’s because you’re not a huge company like Televisa or Cablevisión, which are intermediaries.

For more than a year, these companies have been at war with Roku arguing that their products and the lack of security in them facilitate piracy and theft of intellectual property. For now, Roku is winning, but a few months ago the status quo was completely different. Here we tell you what you should know about this story and what it can mean for the streaming business in Mexico.

First fall: Cablevisión wins

In July of 2017, Cablevisión and Televisa sued the US company Roku  Actually, the reason for the demand was not against the products or practices of the company, but against third parties that illegally sold access to television channels broadcast by Televisa. Through an illegal app (approximately 200 pesos) that is installed on the device, hundreds of national and international channels could be viewed for free.

At the time, in addition to Roku, other distributors of its products such as RadioShack and Office Depot were also affected. When dealing with an intellectual property dispute, the Mexican Intellectual Property Institute (IMPI) also became involved. According to a Televisa press release , the Institute blocked hundreds of URLs that shared illegally obtained content.

It seemed that Televisa had won the war against Roku. Back then, there was only a kind of vague promise from Stephen Kay, the company’s legal counsel, that this would not be the last word.

Second fall: Cablevisión wins again

Ten months after Televisa’s first lawsuit, he again failed against Roku. This time, for infringing copyrights and encouraging the consumption of piracy. It was at this time that the sale and distribution of its products in Mexico was prohibited. According to Cablevisión, although the illegal use of the products is not the responsibility of Roku, fighting against piracy is. At that time, in the eyes of the law, they did not do enough to stop these practices.

The third one is the winner: the winner is Roku

The most recent news from the front is that Roku got the protection they had requested, so he can re-market his products in Mexico. In the coming weeks, they will be available at Amazon , Best Buy, Coppel , DeRemate.com, Liverpool, Mercado Libre, Office Depot, Palacio de Hierro, Radio Shack, Sanborns, Sears and Walmart , according to the company.

Now, the focus is on returning to the growth they had before. One of the strategies they will use for this is their new product, Roku Premier, which allows 4K streaming. The company has more than 22 million users in the world, and they grow close to 40% a year. Although for now it is not known what will be the growth in Mexico before the ban was one of the countries with more potential.

Well, this is the official thing. Actually, it was not very difficult to get them online while they were forbidden. For example, in Mercado Libre they could be bought without problems; the same in the Walmart online store until recently. In fact, in Soriana they stopped selling until the stocks of the physical store were exhausted. Now that they return legally, there are other alternatives. One of them is the Xiaomi device. In fact, a few days before getting the protection, Roku was working on getting more users in Mexico. As proof of this, they announced that the Amazon Prime Video application  could be used on their platform .

On the Cablevision side, they ended up with the same vague promise as Roku at the beginning. They welcomed Roku to the market, but legal actions will continue in case they fail.

What you have to understand

The main attraction of Roku is that it gives access to streaming channels of all genres, free and paid. It has access to about 2,500 channels between Netflix, Vimeo, Crackle, YouTube and many more. The problem is that some users looked for a way to get all this offer illegally.

According to a study by The Competitive Intelligence Unit , 40% of the million users in Mexico use Roku to view content illegally. Hackers modified the system and, in exchange for a monthly payment, allow access to these channels. On the one hand, Roku has always said that this has little truth, and companies like Wal-Mart, Liverpool, Radio Shack, Sears and Best Buy seem to believe them , since they have supported them in eliminating the ban.

On the other hand, Mexican streaming companies do pay for content , which shows that it is not impossible to do so. Sure, Blim, Cineclick and even the international Apple TV, Netflix or Amazon have managed to establish themselves in the country without having problems with Televisa. In some cases, they have even allied . In this case, Roku’s strategy was to blame some users, the hackers, for the problems of their platform.

What is certain is that streaming is the future of television. Some believe that cable TV will disappear completely by 2030 . If so, companies such as Cablevisión will fight more and more for the small land they have left.

Diego CotoDiego Coto


The Mazatlan Post