Roku is officially getting into the streaming service game. Most people are familiar with Roku for their streaming devices, which were first made available in 2008. But times are changing and streaming subscription services are becoming increasingly important. As such, Roku is moving away from strictly device-oriented business and will now be offering their own streaming service.
This will be an extension of the Roku Channel, which initially launched in 2017 and gave users access to thousands of movies and TV shows. This was previously only available to those with an actual Roku device. Now, the Roku Channel will be made available to anyone who wants it on any device. Additionally, the Roku Channel will offer different subscription channels, for services such as Starz or Showtime, which can all be accessed conveniently through the same app. Roku will also bundle the user's services together conveniently, and will send a single bill for whatever the subscriber chooses.
Roku will be operating similarly to the way Amazon operates with its Amazon Channels service, which has been extremely successful up to this point. Though, Roku won't have HBO GO available directly through the Roku Channel at the start. But they will have a standalone Epix channel, which is something that previously wasn't available, unless one had a pay TV subscription. Roku's vice president of programming and engagement Rob Holmes explained in an interview that they may have the edge over Amazon in this department in some ways.
"In order to sign up for one of these channels on Amazon, you have to be a Prime member. For us, there's no other base subscription that you need to access. The second element is, the primary purpose of Prime is to get you to buy more stuff on Amazon. It's a membership and retention tool for your shopping on Amazon. And they've endowed Prime itself with a lot of great content that you can access as a subscriber. Their incentive is to promote that Prime content, so that you really feel the value of your Prime subscription."
For those who already use the Roku Channel, this could serve as a major improvement. It's also going to be great for those who may want to explore what the app has to offer without actually having to buy a Roku device. But this serves as yet another reminder that there are going to be far more streaming subscription options in the coming years, all with their various pros and cons.
Netflix is currently the streaming king, but Disney is launching Disney+ next year, with WarnerMedia also looking to launch their own service. There are also niche services like Shudder to consider. The main problem for consumers being that each service has exclusive content that can't be obtained anywhere else. So TV and movie lovers are going to have to shell out for several different services to make sure they can get all of the content they want. But at least Roku is going to try and consolidate everything within a single app. This news was previously reported by Wired.