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Viewing Data Drives New Roku TV Feature

Viewing data is already a staple of the new class of recommendation engines gracing the latest, greatest guides from pay TV providers, but a new feature for integrated Roku TVs is using that kind of information to tee up a bevy of available streaming options.

A new “More Ways to Watch” feature, built into a new operating system for Roku TVs, detects which shows are being watched on set-tops or over the air, then presents streaming options for a related movie or TV show. Roku’s platform can detect what is being viewed using Audio Content Recognition, which can map spoken dialogue and other audio to a particular title.

Roku is starting to roll out the More Ways to Watch feature to HD Roku TVs, with 4K-capable Roku TV models set to get it sometime this summer. Roku’s TV partners include Element Electronics, Hitachi America, Haier America, Sharp, Insignia (Best Buy’s in-house brand) and Hisense.

The new Roku OS, version 7.6, also expands the number of streaming channels linked to Roku’s streaming platform to more than 300. Recent additions include NBC and BritBox, the new SVOD service from BBC and ITV.

Roku said that’s an increase from 150 channels in January 2017, and a 10 times increase from the number of streaming channels it was indexing for search about a year ago.

To cater to cord-cutters, the new release will also allow users to manage their over-the-air TV options by setting a list of favorite broadcast channels, when they have a broadcast antenna connected to a Roku TV.