As expected, Roku has launched the availability of premium subscriptions within its Roku Channel, starting Monday, January 28. The update will start with select Roku devices in the U.S. All supported devices are expected to receive the update in the coming weeks, beginning with Roku players and concluding with Roku TVs. However, the company has said that premium subscriptions via the Roku Channel are not available for Samsung TVs. It did not offer an explanation for this restriction.
Roku users with eligible devices will have the opportunity to browse, trial, and subscribe to popular streaming services like Starz, Showtime, Epix. In all, Roku will have over 25 premium subscription options to choose from, though the company did not say what these options would cost. Subscribing can be done with a single click, and there will be one consolidated monthly bill for all subscriptions.
The list of available premium channels include:
- Baeble Music
- CollegeHumor’s Dropout
- Fandor Spotlight
- The Great Courses Signature Collection
- Lifetime Movie Club
- Monsters and Nightmares
- Magnolia Selects
- Warriors & Gangsters presented by Magnolia Pictures
- MHz Choice
- Shout! Factory TV
- Smithsonian Channel Plus
- Stingray Karaoke
- Viewster Anime
Premium subscriptions are compatible with Roku’s web interface, where you can also sign up and manage your subscription. Because the Roku Channel is now available via Roku’s app on iOS and Android, subscriptions are portable too.
The Roku Channel already offers a compelling collection of over 10,000 free, ad-supported movies and TV episodes, plus many Roku users already maintain a subscription to Netflix. It will be interesting to see just how much of an appetite viewers have for this additional content. Roku’s user base likely has a significant number of cord-cutters and cord-nevers, thanks to its position as one of the least expensive streaming devices on the market. If these users are trying to find cheap alternatives to cable and satellite, are they prepared to sign up for individual monthly subscriptions that can equal, if not exceed the bill they used to get?
Nonetheless, Roku has also acquired a massive fan following for its ease of use, and openness to any content provider that wants to launch its own Roku channel. Offering these premium subscriptions is consistent with that approach, if nothing else, and we suspect users will appreciate having more choices when it comes to what they can watch.
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