Roku expands further beyond the TV set, adding mobile viewing
Roku Inc. is continuing its play to be more than just a device manufacturer.
The company on Wednesday announced that it would be giving users the ability to watch streaming “Roku Channel” content from its mobile app and also said viewers will be able to purchase subscriptions to Starz, Showtime, and 23 other premium content providers from within the Roku Channel app on their television sets.
The Roku Channel is an important part of Roku’s ROKU, -1.01% platform business, a fast-growing segment of the company that now accounts for more than half of total revenue. The channel previously focused on ad-supported content, but users will now be able to purchase premium subscriptions and view them through the Roku Channel interface.
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While cord-cutters can subscribe to premium channels through Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, Hulu, and other services, Robert Holmes, the company’s vice president of programming, said Roku’s iteration provides a “substantially easier sign-up experience” because users don’t have to have a paid account with another streaming provider in order to buy channels. “There’s value to having it all in one place,” he told MarketWatch.
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Roku has long offered an app for device management, but the company now will be bringing the ability to watch Roku Channel content to users’ mobile devices. The move “brings more value to the Roku platform for people who already engaged in the platform,” according to Holmes.
The company announced in August that it would be bringing to Roku Channel to the web, so that users don’t need to be on their couches watching a physical television set to be able to view content. Viewers might not be buying streaming sticks or Roku-powered smart TVs forever, but the company is trying to integrate the Roku Channel more into users’ daily routines.
This hub for aggregated content is viewed positively by Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, who turned bullish on Roku’s stock in November. “Roku has significant opportunities ahead with international expansion, particularly as it makes The Roku Channel available on third-party Smart TVs and the web,” he wrote at the time.
Roku shares have fallen 41% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.55% has fallen 7%.
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