The Roku Channel Introduces Premium Subscriptions

Over-the-top (OTT) device manufacturer Roku has announced it will begin offering premium subscriptions services including Showtime, Starz and Epix via the Roku Channel, adding a paid component to Roku’s own ad-supported streaming service and boosting the variety of content available on the channel.

Starting at the end of the month on select devices, users will be able to manage subscriptions to partnered services via the Roku Channel, and content from the services users subscribe to will all be accessible via the Roku Channel. Roku says subscriptions will be managed via a single monthly bill, and that users will be able to browse all the content available on each service before signing up.

Partnered subscription services at launch include Showtime, Starz, EPIX, 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, Viewster Anime.

The Roku Channel, launched back in 2017, has been a core part of the company’s diversification away from device sales, a strategic decision which has fuelled strong growth in recent quarters. Roku says the channel offers of 10,000 free ad-supported movies and TV episodes, but its library has so far been somewhat limited compared to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Nonetheless the Roku Channel has become one of the most popular channels available on Roku devices, and this new move will help very quickly broaden the range of content accessible via channel. And while this new content won’t be ad supported, it’s clear that Roku hopes it can turn its channel into a hub by which audiences access the majority of content they want to see. Roku said its aim is for the channel to become the “one-stop shop for […] free and premium TV”.

There could also be opportunities for advertising integrations with the subscription partners. Roku did not mentioned whether any of the partnered services have an ad supported element, but if they do Roku would likely be keen to enable this and take a slice of the revenue. The company, via the launch of its Audience Marketplace last year, has been making its first-party data accessible to advertisers to help better monetise its own inventory, and takes a cut of ad revenue from most third party apps hosted on its devices.

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