There's something of an arms race going on for free, premium streaming TV content, and Roku is hoping to win it. The company already offers ad-supported movies and TV shows on its Roku Channel app, but after acquiring shorts made for the now-defunct Quibi service, it's finally ready to offer up some Roku-branded shows. The first batch of Roku Originals is made up entirely of rebranded Quibi content, all of which you can check out when the shows go live on May 20th.
Quibi launched last year as a streaming service designed for mobile viewing; all content could be watched in portrait mode, and episodes were never more than a few minutes long. The unique gimmick wasn't enough to save the service, which shut down in December, but now the remains of Quibi might be snatched up by Roku.
Roku has been a big name in streaming for some time now — it seems like everyone and their mother has at least one Roku device in their house. If you're looking to add one to your home, or just to upgrade your existing streaming experience, you're in luck: the company has announced some hefty new hardware in the new Roku Ultra and Roku Streambar, as well as an OS update and a new standalone streaming app.
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.
If your wallet is already suffering from the major influx of pre-Black Friday deals, here's a welcome relief: YouTube now offers a bunch of free, ad-supported movies (at least in the US). Forget about your holiday spending woes and binge watch old school classics like Hackers, The Terminator, and a marathon's worth of Rocky films.