Roku has today announced the launch of The Roku Channel for the Web. The Roku Channel originally launched late last year as a means to provide Roku customers with access to free movies, TV shows and more through the use of an ad-supported model. Since the launch, however, The Roku Channel was only available as a channel on Roku devices. Which is what has now changed with this latest announcement confirming an expansion of access by providing Roku device owners alternative ways to consume the free content on offer.
While the main benefit to existing Roku device owners is the removal of the dependency on a Roku device, the company is announcing much more than that. As Roku has now effectively decoupled The Roku Channel from ownership of a Roku-branded device altogether. While it is still available via a Roku device, the web-based version is now available to any one who sets up a Roku account, irrespective of whether they currently own, or have owned a Roku device in the past. Resulting in a completely free streaming service to everyone in the US, and one that is accessible via smartphones, tablets, as well as desktops and laptops. The Roku Channel website is now live and ready for use once an account has been created.
The company also announced a new feature called "Featured Free" and this one is specific to Roku devices as it includes a change to the Roku platform with a view to the home screen highlighting more of the free content currently available through a number of providers. In other words, not only does Featured Free highlight free content available on The Roku Channel, but also free content available through ABC, The CW, FOX, Sony Crackle, and more – it will congregate whatever free content is available at a given time making it easier to find. Featured Free is set to arrive on Roku devices via an update which begins rolling out today, with the update expected to arrive on all devices within the coming weeks. According to Roku, The Roku Channel for the Web and Featured Free highlight the company's ambition "to be the best destination for free streaming entertainment."