Roku launches "The Roku Channel." Roku

Roku is trying to catch up to its rivals. The platform announced its first programming move Wednesday by launching its new movie streaming channel, “The Roku Channel.”

The service will give Roku users access to films, including award-winning movie and classics, for free the platform said. Users won’t need to join a subscription, pay a fee or log into an account to access the channel.

Although the service will be free for users, it will still include ads. However, there will be less ads than when turning on traditional TV, which typically make up a total of 16 minutes per hour. Roku said the channel will have about half the advertising per programming hour as compared to traditional ad-supported linear TV.

“We’re always looking for ways to add value and make TV better for our customers,” Rob Holmes, Roku Vice President of Programming, said in a statement. “With The Roku Channel, we’re responding to consumer demand and helping content publishers deliver content through a new experience that makes finding free entertainment easy for our customers.”

Roku Channels: What Will Be Included In The Roku Channel

Roku made deals with studios including Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers, for the new channel. The platform will include content from those studios, which includes movies like "Ali," "The Karate Kid" and "Legally Blonde." A snapshot of how the channel will look like also shows the movies "Haywire," "The Mask of Zorro," "Zookeeper" and "Bad Boys II."

The Roku Channel will also take titles from existing channel publishers, such as American Classics, Fandor, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark, and YuYu. Other publishers will be added to the list in the future, the platform said.

“There is tremendous opportunity for our content to be viewed on the Roku platform,” Danny Fisher, CEO at FilmRise, said in a statement. “Now with The Roku Channel launch, Roku is offering its customers even greater value by giving them free content while enabling publishers like us to benefit from simple discovery that drives greater engagement.”

How To Get The Roku Channel

The new channel will launch in a phased roll out over the coming weeks, the platform said. When the channel is available on the device, users will be able to go to the Roku Channel Store to download it and start using it.

Roku in the U.S. offers over 5,000 channels with access to 500,000 movies and TV episodes. Roku TVs are sold in 10 countries and the platform has more than 15 million monthly active accounts which streamed about seven billion hours of content on the first half of 2017.

Roku Vs. Sling TV, Other Competitors

Roku’s programming move comes as it competes with its rivals, the Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and the Amazon Fire TV. All the platforms offer people an easy way to access streaming content, like Netflix, Hulu and Sling TV. Unlike Roku, Apple, Google and Amazon promote their own video marketplace on their platforms. For example, Apple promotes iTunes, Google pushes Google Play Movies & TV and Amazon does with its services Amazon Video and Prime Video. Before the announcement, Roku had focused on selling only hardware.

Roku Files For IPO

The move comes after Roku announced last week its initial public offering filing. The platform said the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not been determined yet. The company wrote in the filing it will seek $100 million in funding, which is considered a usual placeholder for companies. Roku has filed to list its Class A common stock on NASDAQ with the ticker “ROKU.”

In the filing, Roku said it made a gross profit of $76.5 million in the first six months of this year, up from $50.3 million it made in the same time period last year. In fiscal year 2016, Roku generated $121 million, up from $89.8 million it made in fiscal 2015. The platform believes it’s a good market opportunity because “all TV content will be available through streaming,” Roku said in the filing, adding that the “rapid adoption of TV streaming has disrupted the traditional linear TV distribution model, creating new options for consumers and new economic opportunities for content publishers and advertisers.”