In a strategic move, Roku recently announced that its streaming service, The Roku Channel, will also be available on Google TV and Android TV platforms. This comes as a strategic play in response to the surge in the use of Google’s platforms (Android TV in particular) and is predicted to expand the service’s potential audience considerably.
Before this announcement, The Roku Channel was limited to Roku devices, Samsung TVs, Amazon Fire TV devices, and the mobile app. This move, which opens the service to Google and Android TV, is no small feat. With the service already being accessed by millions, the increase in reach promised by this expansion could catapult these numbers even further.
What is The Roku Channel?
The Roku Channel is not merely a content repository; it also offers its unique blend of programming, known as Roku Originals. In 2021, the offerings included shows that initially debuted on the short-lived Quibi platform, later acquired and rebranded by Roku.
Users need to find The Roku Channel on their app store and install it. Once onboard, a large content of content awaits — from TV shows and movies to children’s programming and over 350 live TV channels. Thanks to the Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) model, albeit interspersed with periodic ads, all these can be accessed for free.
Roku Originals and Premium Subscriptions are up for grabs for those craving even more.
While subscription-based services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney+ hold their own appeal, The Roku Channel’s FAST model presents an equally compelling proposition. The Roku Channel offers an escape in an era where subscription fatigue is real, delivering a diverse content spread without the usual subscription costs.
Currently, viewers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Mexico can access the service, with premium subscriptions being an exclusive offering in the United States, barring Samsung TVs and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Roku and Google Working Together
Dipping into the historical context, it’s interesting that this expansion comes despite a history of friction between Google and Roku. The two tech giants had locked horns over the hosting of YouTube and YouTube TV apps on Roku’s platform, with Roku even suggesting that Google’s ‘unreasonable demands’ could lead to removing these apps.
Claims of preferential treatment for YouTube’s apps and changes to search result management were among Roku’s grievances, along with Google’s alleged insistence on upgrading Roku’s memory cards to specific standards, leading to higher consumer costs. Read Google’s side of the story here.
However, the story ended positively, with an agreement ensuring the continued presence of the YouTube and YouTube TV apps on Roku.
The recent inclusion of The Roku Channel on Google TV and Android TV heralds a new era of cooperation between the two entities.
This development underscores Roku’s strategic progression in an aggressively competitive streaming market. As of 2022, Roku boasted a significant presence in the streaming device market, with over 70 million subscribers. This latest move will give it an edge, strengthening its position in the streaming domain.
Roku Collaborates with Shopify for Seamless Shopping Experience
Roku had recently announced its unique collaboration with Shopify. The partnership promises to provide Roku users with a novel shopping experience, allowing them to purchase products directly from Shopify merchants through their televisions using Roku Action Ads.
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D., is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering tech and business news in the OTT industry.
With extensive experience in video encoding, streaming, analytics, monetization, end-to-end streaming, and more, Krishna has held multiple leadership roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers and speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.