M&E Connections

Roku Channel Expanding to Include Premium Epix, Showtime, Starz Subscriptions

The Roku Channel is expanding to include premium entertainment subscriptions to networks including Epix, Showtime and Starz, Roku said Jan. 2.

Premium subscriptions and search capabilities on The Roku Channel will start rolling out to select Roku devices in late January, with a “phased rollout planned for early 2019,” it said.

Users will then be able to watch free ad-supported and paid premium entertainment in one simple-to-navigate interface, with personalized recommendations, where they can browse, try and subscribe to popular services, Roku said.

Through the enhanced offering, in addition to 10,000-plus free ad-supported movies and TV episodes already available, The Roku Channel will start offering users the option to add 25-plus premium subscriptions, it noted. Users will be able to discover new services from the premium subscription partners, browse their full catalogs and then sign-up for “at least a seven-day free trial” using their existing Roku account information, it said.

In addition to Epix, Showtime and Starz, other premium subscription partners that will be available at launch will 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, Roku said.

The premium subscriptions, however, are only viewable within The Roku Channel, it noted. Meanwhile, search within The Roku Channel will be expanded also, enabling users to easily search for keywords within the channel, it said. The Roku Channel will make subscription streaming easy for users by providing one destination to watch premium entertainment from more than 25 providers with a single monthly bill and simple account management.

Roku mobile app users will also soon be able to watch The Roku Channel after an app update that will start rolling out to Android and iOS devices in late January also, Roku said. As a result, 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 U.S., it said. 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, it noted.

“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 of programming and engagement at Roku, said in the news release.

He added: “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.”

Bringing Starz premium programming to the “highly engaged user base” of The Roku Channel represents “a great opportunity to expand our reach, drive more viewership and make our range” of Starz Original TV series and movies “more widely accessible to new and growing audiences,” Joe Glennon, EVP of affiliate sales at Starz, said in the announcement.

The Roku Channel will continue to feature “thousands of free, ad-supported titles available without a subscription” that are available on a wide range of devices, Roku said, adding users don’t need any subscriptions or membership plans “to access quality free, ad-supported content.”