With the NFL, college football and basketball, the NBA and NHL, and year-around global futbol activity all converging at the end of the year, following sports on television is a challenging search proposition for sports fans.
Roku, like almost everyone else involved in the video business these days, is trying to solve for this complexity with its new "Sports" homepage menu feature that aggregates and surfaces live sports programming across apps and networks.
Roku's new sports "experience" (Roku's language) is accessible on the left-side menu navigation on the Roku homepage, just under "The Buzz." You can also access it by saying "sports" into the Roku voice remote.
Click on, say, "college football," and users see a selection of thumbnails for upcoming games. Select one of those thumbnails, and they'll get info on what apps and networks they'll need to watch the game.
Here's where it gets a little limited.
At launch, the new search feature will surface live sports on virtual pay TV apps DirecTV Stream, Sling TV and fubo TV, as well as other subscription apps with live sports including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus and Peacock. Limited info on specific programming channels is included (TNT, TBS and TruTV), as is the Roku Channel.
Roku said other apps and networks will be added down the road, but conspicuously absent at launch is the "Worldwide Leader" itself, Disney's ESPN, along with major broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC.
Since the three virtual pay TV services included in the new sports hub collectively include all of those networks -- and pretty much every other major broadcast and cable channel with live sports -- Roku still manages to cover most of the bases with this nifty new gizmo.
For example, by clicking on the thumbnail for Saturday morning's Southeastern Conference college football showdown between LSU and Arkansas -- a game nationally televised by ESPN -- users will see the game is available "with subscription" on ESPN via DirecTV Stream, Sling TV and fuboTV.
So, even if you subscribe to, say, YouTube TV and not those other vMVPDs, you still have the essential information -- you can see the game at 12 p.m. EST on ESPN. (Next TV recommends taking the Tigers and points.)
Likewise, every game on NBC is going to be revealed via program info for Peacock. And it works the same way with Paramount Plus and CBS.
“Watching your favorite teams should be simple, so we’ve made it a priority to build out a more seamless and streamlined way to discover and watch sports on our platform," said Alex Hill, director of live and sports for Roku. "Sports are a vital part of the streaming experience, and we will continue to make enhancements to that experience, like adding more supported providers and finding new ways for our users to follow their favorite teams.” ■
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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