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Roku Launches Original Show Telling Viewers What's Streaming on Roku

Roku Recommends Andrew Hawkins Maria Menounos
'Roku Recommends' hosted by Andrew Hawkins and Maria Menounos (Image credit: Roku)

Streamer Roku, cautiously surfing a current toward original programming, is launching a show aimed at helping viewers find stuff to watch on Roku.

Roku Recommends, debuting Thursday, is co-hosted by TV personality Maria Menounos and former NFL player Andrew "Hawk" Hawkins. The Top 5 recommended shows are selected by the show's showrunner, producers and hosts, based on exclusive Roku data.

After building the leading streaming platform on other people's programming, Roku has been dipping its toes in the business of owning content. 

In May, Roku rolled out the shows it acquired from Quibi under a new Roku Originals banner. Quibi was the Jeff Katzenberg company that spent a billion on Hollywood talent to create short-form mobile content that no one paid to watch. Roku also acquired the company that produces This Old House. More recently it made a deal to be the first to stream new movies from Saban Films

Roku has said it will acquire content appropriate for its ad-supported streaming business, while not spending billions to compete with the subscription streaming services.

Roku Recommends is billed as the first Roku Brand Studio production. Roku Brand Studio was formed in March to create branded content for Roku advertisers. The unit is staffed by former Funny or Die veterans and Roku Recommends is produced by Funny Or Die.

“According to Nielsen data, the average streamer spends more than seven minutes searching for what to watch next,” said Chris Bruss, head of Roku Brand Studio. “We are uniquely positioned to use our trending data both to help consumers find incredible movies and shows and to help advertisers go beyond the traditional 30-second ad to entertain streamers who otherwise spend time in ad-free, subscription-only environments.”

Roku said several leading national advertisers have signed on as sponsors for Roku Recommends, leading off with top retailer Walmart.

Episodes of Roku Recommends are about 15 minutes long, with the first episode running 17 minutes. Sponsors’ videos will appear mid-show during a two minute ad break.

Each act of the show features different editorial segments featuring themed recommendations of titles available to watch on Roku. Examples of themes are “trending on Roku” or “best family-friendly titles.”

Advertisers like Walmart, each receive a certain amount of these segments to sponsor over the course of the first 20 episodes, Bruss said. Before every sponsored segment, the advertiser’s logo is incorporated on-screen after the segments' title card, along with "presented by" language voiced-over by the hosts.

Advertisers can also use the Roku Measurement Partner Program to measure the impact of their campaigns’ reach, brand lift, store visit and incremental sales.

Roku Recommends will be available to stream for free on The Roku Channel with new episodes every Thursday

“I love TV and I am always on the hunt for the next amazing show, movie or doc to stream,” said co-host Menounos. “As the No. 1 TV Streaming Platform in America, Roku provides access to so much great content and I am thrilled to co-host a weekly program designed to help viewers find their next favorite program or rediscover a treasured classic."

"I am excited to co-host Roku Recommends and bring millions of viewers my take on the best of the best content from the Roku platform,” added Hawkins. “Great titles are right at your fingertips with Roku."

Roku Recommends is produced by Funny Or Die. Mike Farah, Beth Belew, and Jim Ziegler serve as executive producers.

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.