Roku has added a live onscreen program guide to its ad-supported free Roku channel, allowing it to more closely mimic the experience of watching linear TV.
In addition to the guide, Roku is adding over 30 new channels to the existing range of over 100 viewing options accessible through the Roku Channel. The changes were due to go into effect Monday at midnight.
While the new offerings include on-demand lifestyle, movie, sports, and kids’ programming, many are in the live news category. The deployment of the guide and the new channels coincides with a period when information is a key element of a global streaming boom. Roku recently reported an 80% increase in viewing hours in April compared to the same month in 2019. New channels include ABC News Live, Cheddar and Reuters TV.
Viewers can access the live guide, which features 12 hours of lineup information, through a branded purple tile inside the Roku Channel. The guide information will then appear on the schedule, which will continue to play in the background.
Pluto TV, launched in 2014, pioneered the use of an onscreen guide in streaming. Viacom acquired it in early 2019 and has nearly doubled its active account base since the transaction.
Introduced in 2017, the Roku Channel has grown into one of the top destinations on Roku, which has over 40 million active accounts in the United States. The Roku channel expanded in early spring to the UK. While most of the offers are free and supported by ads, premium networks like Starz, BET + and Acorn TV are present on the channel, helping to drive subscription acquisition much like Amazon Fire or ‘Apple TV.
In May, the # 1 most viewed channel on YouTube, CoComelon, joined the Roku Channel lineup. Its programs in the children and family category are among those which represent a fifth of the 100,000 films and television episodes available on the channel.