Roku Adds Third-Party OTT Video Services

Taking a page from Amazon Channels, Roku Jan. 2 announced it is expanding The Roku Channel to include “premium subscriptions.” Users will be able to watch both free ad-supported and paid entertainment in one interface, with personalized recommendations, where they can browse, trial and subscribe to third-party over-the-top video services.

Specifically, The Roku Channel will soon offer users the option to add more than 25 OTT video services such as Showtime®, Starz and Epix into one monthly bill using their existing Roku® account information.

Other platforms include Baeble Music, CollegeHumor’s Dropout, CuriosityStream, FitFusion, The Great Courses Signature Collection, Hopster, Magnolia Selects presented by Magnolia Pictures, MHz Choice, Noggin, Smithsonian Channel Plus, Tastemade, and Viewster Anime, among others.

“We’re focused on making it easy to find great entertainment of all types on the platform and adding Premium Subscriptions is a natural evolution for The Roku Channel,” Rob Holmes, VP, programming and engagement, said in a statement. “By making it easy for users to discover, subscribe to and watch premium subscriptions, we believe this offering will result in increased subscriptions and user engagement for our subscription partners and an even better user experience.”

The Roku Channel will continue to include thousands of free, ad-supported titles available without a subscription and is available on a range of devices; users do not need any subscriptions or memberships in order to access quality free, ad-supported content

Customers will be able to start a free trial or subscribe to new premium subscriptions with one click using their existing Roku account information once they visit the subscription page. All premium content can be trialed for at least seven days. A reminder is sent before each free trial expires and billing starts

Subscriptions will be managed directly from Customers will receive one monthly bill for all premium subscriptions on The Roku Channel.

In 2015, Amazon launched Amazon Channels, a platform enabling Prime members direct access to third-party OTT video services. Now called Prime Channels, the platform has helped HBO Now, Starz and CBS All Access, Dove Channel, among others, attract myriad new subs through the Prime ecosystem.

The Roku mobile app will soon enable users to watch content from The Roku Channel. For the first time, users with iOS and Android devices will be able to use the Roku mobile app without a Roku device, enabling them to watch The Roku Channel anytime, anywhere in the United States. Users will be able to start a video on a Roku player or Roku TV and pick up from where they left off while on the go.

Premium subscriptions and search capabilities on The Roku Channel will begin rolling out to select Roku devices in late January, with a phased rollout planned for early 2019. The Roku mobile app update will also begin rolling out to iOS and Android devices in late January.

“Bringing our premium programming to a highly engaged user base via The Roku Channel is a great opportunity to expand our reach, drive more viewership and make our range of original TV series and movies more widely accessible to new and growing audiences,” said Joe Glennon, EVP of affiliate sales, Starz, which is owned by Lionsgate