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Roku shares plunge after Comcast announces free streaming box and Facebook launches TV device

Key Points
  • Roku, whose shares have soared in 2019, plunged more than 13% on Wednesday.
  • The drop comes after Comcast announces a new deal on its connected boxes and Facebook launches a new Portal TV device.
  • The devices potentially heighten competition for Roku, which has built a business on providing streaming devices and services.
People pass by a video sign display with the logo for Roku, a Fox-backed video streaming firm, that held it's IPO at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York, September 28, 2017.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Roku shares fell 13.7% on Wednesday after Comcast announced a new deal for cord cutters and Facebook unveiled a new device that can stream TV shows. Netflix closed down 2.4%.

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.

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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.

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