Roku Inc said on Wednesday it will begin offering premium video channels to customers for a subscription fee as it expands its free streaming video service.
The expanded Roku Channel will include “Premium Subscriptions.” Users will be able to watch both free ad-supported and paid premium entertainment in one interface, with personalized recommendations, where they can browse, trial and subscribe to popular services.
In addition to 10,000+ free ad-supported movies and TV episodes already available, The Roku Channel will soon offer users the option to add 25+ Premium Subscriptions from providers such as SHOWTIME, Starz and EPIX. Users will be able to discover new services from Premium Subscriptions partners, browse their entire catalogs and then sign-up for at least a seven-day free trial using their existing Roku account information. Premium Subscriptions are only viewable within The Roku Channel. Additionally, search within The Roku Channel will be expanded, allowing users to search for keywords within the channel.
“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,” said Rob Holmes, Vice President, Programming and Engagement, Roku. “As a top five channel by active account reach, The Roku Channel is already a great source for free, ad-supported entertainment and provides significant user engagement. 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.”
Executive Vice President of Affiliate Sales, Starz.
In addition, 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 capabitlities 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.
The move by the device maker resembles the channels business Amazon launched in 2015 that resold video services on an “a la carte” basis. Apple is also expected to launch its own streaming video service that will adopt a similar model.