The Roku Channel, currently a library of free ad-supported movies and TV shows, will soon grow to include paid subscription services including, most notably, Showtime and Starz. The savvy business move will draw in more channel viewers and likely boost ad revenue, as well as allow the company to play a more active role in the content that runs on its devices. From a user perspective, there are two main benefits: easier, consolidated content searching in one channel, and the ability to pay for multiple subscriptions through one monthly bill.
However, many of the big names in paid streaming are left out from this announcement - right now, Roku lists the following as its major partners:
- Baeble Music
- CollegeHumor's DROPOUT
- The Great Courses Signature Collection
- Magnolia Selects presented by magnolia Pictures
- MHz Choice
- Smithsonian Channel Plus
- Viewster Anime
Notable omissions include HBO (which is available via Amazon Prime Channels), Hulu, and Netflix. Those apps remain available outside of The Roku Channel via Roku's app library, they're just not part of the company's own streaming library app.
In addition to premium subscriptions, which will begin rolling out late this month for some devices and come to more throughout early 2019, the Roku mobile app will gain access to streaming content from The Roku Channel, even if users don't have a Roku device. The mobile update will also arrive later this month.
It's pretty easy to see where Roku's going with all of this - it wants a bigger slice of the software pie than it has now. With competitors like Amazon and, reportedly, Apple on the same track, though, it'll be an uphill battle.
Roku has announced the rollout for premium subscriptions starts today.