Premium Subscriptions on The Roku Channel will begin to roll out today in the US. Roku has just confirmed the availability of the new feature, and explained the rollout will take a few weeks to complete.
The first devices expected to receive the update that adds Premium Subscriptions are Roku players, including the Roku Stick, Roku Express and Roku Premiere.
Following the Roku player rollout, the update is expected to head out to TVs that come powered by the company’s Roku OS solution.
Streaming through a web browser is also due to go live today.
Premium Subscriptions was first announced early in January and so the details behind the service were already known. Essentially, Roku is now starting to offer users of its The Roku Channel the option to subscribe to paid-for premium networks and channels. Roku states it will be offering access to more than 25 premium networks, including SHOWTIME, Starz, and EPIX.
Those who sign up for either of these services before March 31, 2019 through Roku will be able to take advantage of a thirty-day free trial before having to begin paying for access.
The service marks a departure from The Roku Channel's previous main selling point of offering free, ad-supported access to content. That free emphasis is still in place and is still the main selling point, but now The Roku Channel comes with the added option of paying for content from select providers. Making it a paid-for and free service.
Roku is just the latest in a number of companies who have started to introduce this type of access, with Amazon and its Amazon Channels solution proving to be one of the most popular implementations. Roku will likely be hoping to repeat the success Amazon has found in this space.
The benefit offered to the consumer through this approach is the option to cut down on the number of separate bills a consumer has to pay, and this will ultimately prove especially useful to those who already have an account setup with Roku. For example, those with a payment method already on file will be able to one-click subscribe to any of the premium networks, and have Roku collect the subscription cost and pay the premium network on their behalf. Omitting the need for the user to set up an additional account directly with the premium network in question.
This benefit will be amplified more for those who subscribe to multiple different premium networks, due to the use of a single provider collecting the various money payments instead of multiple providers.
When Premium Subscriptions was first announced, Roku also took the opportunity to explain that in addition to the new subscriptions, the company plans to expand availability of The Roku Channel in general by reducing the dependency on access through a purchased Roku OS device. Roku had already started to make this change with the introduction of the web-based version of the feature last year. The more recent announcement was specifically designed to highlight the incoming support to smartphone users through the company's app.
Today’s announcement further expanded on this point by explaining the Android app will begin to receive its update in mid-February. In contrast to iOS whose app update is due to go live later today.
Once the update does arrive for Android, smartphone users will be able to take advantage of the benefits and free content associated with The Roku Channel.