Roku has launched The Roku Channel in the UK. The new streaming option is available to anyone with a Roku streaming dongle, NOW TV box, or Sky Q. But with endless options competing for your eyeballs from the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube Premium, NOW TV, and more – what makes the Roku Channel any different?
Well, quite a lot as it turns out. First up, the Roku Channel is completely free. You’ll be able to start streaming Hollywood blockbusters and television series without paying a penny. Better yet, Roku won’t even force you to sign-up with an account to get access to the hours of entertainment available on the Roku Channel.
Roku is using advertising to fund the channel and make sure there’s a constant rotating library of content for viewers to binge.
“With The Roku Channel we are making it easy for consumers to find great free entertainment and provide additional value to Roku users, NOW TV device holders and Sky Q customers,” said Rob Holmes, Vice President of Programming at Roku. “Ad-supported viewing is one of the fastest growing categories on our platform and we are excited to meet the consumer demand for free TV.”
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The Roku Channel could be the perfect antidote for people who are practising good social distancing and staying at home all day – leaving only for exercise locally or trips out for essentials and medicine – and looking for new shows to watch, without coughing up for another monthly subscription.
At launch, Roku Channel includes more than 10,000 free movies, documentaries, and television episodes. The movies will be available for a limited time, with Roku refreshing the selection regularly. TV shows will be available for longer than movies – to give viewers a chance to catch every episode before the title leaves the service.
A number of rival services, including Netflix and Amazon, use the same approach to keep the content library feeling fresh. Apple TV+ is different since it only includes shows commissioned by Apple itself – there are no licensed shows or movies.
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Roku Channel will include the likes of shows such as Homes Under the Hammer, The Commander, Ultimate Force, Fifth Gear, Skins and Britain’s Best Bakery, alongside Hollywood hits such as Get Carter, The Wicker Man and Les Miserables.
If you do decide to login to The Roku Channel on your device, the service will learn from your viewing habits to be able to better suggest new shows and movies based on your tastes. You’ll also be able to move between streaming devices – from your Sky Q box, to a Roku streaming stick in the bedroom – and take your viewing history and recommendations with you.
Roku says it has worked extremely hard to ensure that viewers won’t see the same adverts playing before their shows or movies. Not only that, but the company – which launched the Roku Channel in the United States back in October 2017 – has promised to use fewer adverts than other on-demand services. A dedicated kids section will feature less adverts than comparable ad-supported terrestrial channels aimed at younger viewers, Roku adds.
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The Kids & Family section only contains shows and movies that have been hand-picked to be suitable for children. There is also a character row, helping parents and kids find the show they want to watch. Titles in Kids & Family at launch include Bob the Builder, Teletubbies, Oddbods, Bernard, Ryan’s World Specials, Fireman Sam and Baby Einstein Classics.
At launch, The Roku Channel in the UK features over 40 content partners, including All3Media International, EndemolShine Group, FilmRise, pocket.watch and DRG, plus Hollywood studios such as Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Television. More publishers are expected to be added over time, Roku promises.
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