Roku Enhances Operating System, Streaming Content Access, Including Transactional VOD

Roku Sept. 12 announced the latest enhancements coming to its operating system, aiming to give users a more-efficient means for discovering, accessing and streaming video entertainment, including transactional VOD.

In the coming months, the company will introduce new content discovery software called “The Buzz” to the Roku home screen menu as well as two significant updates to its “What to Watch” feature, “Continue Watching” and an expanded “Save List. Roku is also making updates to branded voice remote control, expanding Bluetooth private listening, easing navigation within the live-TV channel guide with the addition of categories, and offering more content discovery tools, among many other features.

San Jose, Calif.-based Roku also announced two new products: Roku Wireless Bass and the 2022 Roku Express.

“By personalizing the way our customers connect with the content … and offering more ways to discover and access new content to stream or save for later, our users have more tools than ever to watch what they want to with ease,” Preston Smalley, VP of consumer product, said in a statement.

With the newest addition to the Roku Home Screen Menu, “The Buzz,” users can browse a frequently updated collection of posts featuring entertainment-centric, short-form content from popular streaming services and entertainment brands, such as AMC+, Apple TV+, BET+, Crackle, Hallmark Movies Now, IGN, Plex, Popcornflix, Showtime, Starz, The CW, Tubi, Vevo and Wondrium, among others.

Posts within “The Buzz” may include video clips, images, trailers, interviews, and other content to help users discover movies and shows that match their interests. Users can engage with content featured in “The Buzz” by liking posts, saving content to watch later, following profiles to view future posts, or immediately streaming the movie or show featured in the post.

Designed to make streaming on Roku even more convenient, “Continue Watching” makes it easier for users to resume watching TV shows and movies they were previously streaming. Located within “What to Watch” on the Roku home screen menu, the platform gives users a single location to jump back into the content they are watching, from a selection of streaming channels including HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and The Roku Channel, with more channels to come.

Roku users can now easily save movies and shows from across the platform to create a “save list” of content they want to stream later. Located within the “What to Watch” section of the home screen menu, as well as on the Roku app, the new “Save List” provides a single destination for users to access and stream content they’ve previously saved. Users will see a “Save” option on movie and TV show details pages, allowing them to save that title to their list with a press of a button. Today’s update is an expansion of the previously launched “Save List” within The Roku Channel and the Roku app.

The company’s newest addition to the home screen menu, the Roku Store, will be a more visual, immersive destination for users to browse, search, and add free and paid channels to their devices. Within the platform, users will also be able to navigate through different categories to find and shop for new streaming content. The Roku Store will appear on devices in the coming months and will be expanded over time to offer users a more streamlined and integrated shopping experience on the Roku platform.

Roku is expanding Bluetooth Private Listening to be compatible with its newest Roku Ultra, Roku Streambar, and Roku Streambar Pro. Users can pair their headphones from the Sound Setting menu and start listening to content privately. This is an update to Roku’s Private Listening feature, which currently allows users to listen to their TV through headphones connected to Roku’s premium remotes or paired through the Mobile App.

Roku is adding new visual tools onscreen to help customers get to their desired channel destination while using Roku Voice. When using this feature, users will now see a display on their screen showing channel options relevant to their voice search. From there, customers can simply say or select the option they want and start streaming.

Categories within the Live TV Channel Guide will enable customers to discover and jump into their favorite Live TV content with new content categories. For a more personalized experience, customers can browse through three new categories: “recent,” “favorite” and “subscribed,” where they can save their favorite channels, circle back to their recently watched content, or get to their premium stations from The Roku Channel.

Customers can also browse through a selection of live-TV genres, including news, sports, movies, entertainment, kids, crime, music and En Espanol, all of which will be automatically populated based on content in The Roku Channel available in those categories.

Roku is also introducing a dedicated live-TV channel “guide” button on the mobile app remote, so users can see what is playing live on their TV with a tap of a button. With the new “guide” button, customers can browse for content to watch, and search for new categories. The “guide” button within the app will only be available when connected to a Roku TV with OS 11.5 in supported regions.

Comcast Bows ‘XClass TV’ Operating System

Comcast Oct. 19 announced the launch of XClass TV, the cable giant’s proprietary operating system affording third-party television manufacturers direct access to NBCUniversal and third-party content.

For the first time, Comcast is making its entertainment and voice platform available direct to consumers across the U.S., without an Xfinity subscription, both inside and outside of Comcast’s service areas.

Comcast is partnering with China’s Hisense to offer consumers an innovative smart-TV with an integrated interface and voice remote to access live and on-demand streaming content from myriad apps and services. The first run of Hisense XClass TVs are available this week in select Walmart stores and in the coming weeks through Walmart.com.

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The operating system is the same technology Comcast employs for its proprietary Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex, Sky Glass and Sky Q platforms catering to 75 million Comcast entertainment and connectivity devices. The OS integrates streaming, on-demand, broadcast and cable options in one place under unified voice search, discovery, apps and interactive features. It offers customers intuitive navigation across thousands of apps, movies, shows and sports with a simple voice command or remote click.

“Hisense XClass TVs are the next products in a growing portfolio built on our flexible and scalable technology platform, bringing the best innovative products — whether that’s a streaming box or a smart-TV — to each territory and customer segment,” Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer at Comcast, said in a statement.

Hisense XClass TVs are available in 43-inch and 50-inch 4K Ultra HD models. The televisions include a voice remote powered by Comcast’s Emmy-award winning voice technology. Alongside the simple and intuitive user experience, Hisense XClass TVs support leading technologies including Dolby Vision HDR, which delivers a more vivid, lifelike image. Hisense XClass TVs also support HDR10 and can enable the pass-through of Dolby Atmos from compatible content sources when the TV is connected to a compatible audio device.