Roku, a leader in the on-demand streaming world, is adding more than 30 free live and linear channels to the Roku Channel, expanding its selection to more than 100 linear channels. Roku has also created a channel guide to help viewers find what they want to watch.
The change, starting Monday evening, comes at a time when streaming viewing is up, particularly news viewing amid a pandemic and rioting.
“Now more than ever it’s important for our users to have easy access to free content, such as news, and the ability to find it quickly,” said Ashley Hovey, director, AVOD growth, at Roku.
"We're really leaning in here, said Hovey, noting that when she joined Roku, it had only four live channels.
"Just because people are cutting the cord doesn't mean that they hate linear, right? They want more free content. They want easier to access content," she said. "Actually live viewing on our channel grew substantially faster than over over all viewing inside of the Roku Channel. So we're actually seeing people really lean in and free continues to be that really important driver to users."
All of the shows on each channel come from a single programmer. That programmer decides which shows air at which time, including primetime. Some of the programmers creating linear channels have had shows on The Roku Channel before, and some are new to the platform.
“Joining the Roku platform allows Reuters to reach a new and engaged audience of news consumers,” said Jessica April, director of strategic partnerships, Reuters. “It’s a critical time for accurate and unbiased news coverage, and we’re excited to partner with Roku to deliver our world-class journalism to their users.”
The channels represent several genres. In addition to news from ABC News Live, Back News Channel, Reuters, NowThis, Cheddar and others, there are sports channels, movies and TV channels, kids and family channels and lifestyle channels. For the first time, the Roku Channel includes programming in Spanish.
“As consumer options for content continue to expand, Roku has met audience demand by growing their platform in smart ways that make it easy for users to discover new content,” said Mark Garner, executive VP, digital content licensing & business development, A+E Networks. “We’re pleased to extend our streaming footprint by creating new brands, like Lively Place and Crime360, with content that appeals to their unique and engaged customer base.”
The live TV channel guide will look familiar to cable subscribers. The guide is available via a new Live TV tile on the Roku Channel and users watching linear programming can press the left button on their remote to get to the guide. The Roku remote doesn’t have numbers, but frequently watched channels will be highlighted for viewers.
All of the channels are ad supported, with the same eight minute per hour of advertising as on Roku's on-demand programming. Roku sells the ads.
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