Roku Channel Launches ‘Kids & Family’ Destination

Streaming TV pioneer Roku said it is adding a “Kids & Family” destination to the Roku Channel, which is designed to make it easy to access free over-the-top content.

The move comes as more streaming services have decided that offering children’s programming is a good way of becoming stickier to families that subscribe.

Disney+ will have kid friendly content when it launches in November and recent announcements have CBS All Access producing original shows for kids including a new Danger Mouse series and Viacom adding kids programming, including a SpongeBob SquarePants pop-up channel, to Pluto TV.

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Launching Monday, Roku Channel’s Kids & Family will have both free content and premium content that will be incorporated for Roku users who subscribe to HBO, Noggin and other pay services with children’s shows.

The service will be ad supported, but will have 40% of the commercial time on traditional linear TV. Lego Systems has signed up as the first sponsor of Kids & Family on the Roku Channel.

“We recognize that it can be a challenge to find quality kids and family entertainment across multiple streaming channels, particularly free, ad-supported options,” said Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement at Roku. “Kids & Family not only provides a selection of great free, ad-supported content from partners like with Ryan’s World and Lionsgate’s Leapfrog, but also highlights kids’ entertainment from existing premium subscriptions partners. Parents looking to find great programming for their children will enjoy the ease of going to The Roku Channel as their one place for kids and family entertainment.”

The Roku Channel is also part of Roku’s pitch to consumers looking to reduce their subscription costs by providing value. “Video is the easiest thing for them to cut back on and actually cut the cord,” Holmes said. “What we’re seeing is that as users do that they are seeking some ways to augment their viewing with great ad-supported content.”

The service will be ad supported, but will have 40% of the commercial time on traditional linear TV. Lego Systems has signed up as the first sponsor of Kids & Family on the Roku Channel.

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“Roku offers a custom experience that will help us connect with our kid and family audiences, who are consuming content on an evolving array of platforms,” said Michael McNally, senior director at the Lego Group. “We’re thrilled to be the exclusive sponsorship partner in Kids & Family on the Roku Channel.”

Kids programming on traditional TV has not been doing well. Last week, viewing on kids’ cable networks was down 24% year versus the same week in 2018, with Nickelodeon down 32%, according to an analysis by Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein.

While adding kids programming, Roku is also offering additional controls that will let parents set access to programming based on content ratings.

Free Kids & Family content will include franchises such as Care Bears, The Cat in the Hat, Leapfrog, Little Baby Bum, My Little Pony, Rev & Roll, Super Mario Brothers,Thomas & Friends, It will have five exclusive episodes of Ryan’s World.

Roku said its Kids & Family designation will have 7,000 free ad supported movies and TV episodes from producers including Hasbro, DHX Media, Happy Kids TV, Lionsgate, Mattel, Moonbug and

“There is a lot of great kids content and family content on the Roku platform. It’s just dispersed across a range of both paid and free channels. We wanted to make a single place that offered a hand-selected selection of kids and family entertainment,” Holmes said.

Viewers will be able to search for programming by age, by character and by theme.

There are also full-time live and linear streams of children’s programming from Moonbug, and Xumo.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to expand our reach with the quickly growing audience on The Roku Channel,” said Chris Williams, founder and CEO of “Family time is often enjoyed in the living room where Roku is so successful and we’re thrilled to bring our biggest creator partners, like Ryan from Ryan’s World, into the heart of the home through the new channel.”

Kids & Family will be available to Roku Channel users on Roku devices, via the web and on some Samsung smart TVs.

Roku calls itself the No. 1 TV streaming platform in the U.S., with 30.5 million active accounts, 9.4 billion hours streamed during the second quarter and 41 million OTT devices and smart TVs.

The Roku Channel, set up two years ago to help people find attractive programming from the vastness of online content, has become a top 5 channel on the platform. The Roku channel offers 50,000 free and paid movies and TV shows. The Roku Channel also offers one-click subscriptions to premium services such as HBO, Starz and Showtime.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.