Comcast said it will give a free Xfinity Flex streaming box to internet-only subscribers, after previously charging them $5 a month for the device. The connected box aggregates content from popular platforms such as Netflix, Google's YouTube and Amazon Prime, allowing it to directly compete with Roku's set-top boxes, which also aggregate TV shows and movies from a variety of content makers.
Facebook, meanwhile, rolled out Portal TV, a gadget with a camera and microphones that connects to users' televisions and lets them make video calls as well as stream content from Amazon Prime Video, Facebook Watch, Showtime, Starz and others. The device is priced at $149 and starts shipping Nov. 5.
For Roku, whose shares have more than quadrupled in 2019, the potential of more competition presents a risk to investors betting the company will grow into its more than $15 billion market cap.
Streaming has become one of the fiercest battles in technology, with industry giants and legacy media companies vying to grab consumers' eyeballs and advertisers' spending. A number of companies have recently launched services to carve a piece of the market, including Apple's Apple TV+ and Disney's Disney+, as well as Peacock, a new offering from Comcast's NBC Universal unit, the parent company of CNBC.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.