Roku TV owners just got more than 100 live TV streaming channels added to their over-the-air channel guide.
The change is part of the Roku OS 9.4 software update that was announced in September.
ABC News Live, a long list of children’s networks, MTV (from Pluto TV), YO! MTV, fubo sports network, Outside TV+ and a number of movie channels from FilmRise make up the lineup. According to Roku, 115 channels are being added to the over-the-air channel guide.
The new channel guide arrived on my Roku TV early Thursday night. Scrolling through a single channel guide was a much better experience than jumping over to The Roku Channel and searching for the “Live TV” section.
Even though I pay for a number of streaming services, I watch local channels using my TV antenna the most. So having Roku’s streaming channels makes it more likely that I might start tuning into them.
If the new “Streaming TV” channel lineup isn’t for you, Roku says you can remove it completely, or customize it to your liking. Even if you don’t use a TV antenna, users will be able to watch live streaming channels from The Roku Channel directly from the home screen.
More eyeballs = more $$$
Roku’s move into streaming a free, live TV service is following a brisk uptick in similar services.
Pluto TV and XUMO are driving massive viewership (and revenue) by offering free ad-supported live TV channels or on-demand movies.
Viacom bought Pluto TV in January 2019 for $340 million when it had a viewership of roughly 12 million.
The company has used Pluto TV as a vehicle for monetizing its vault of movies and TV shows through advertising.
Viacom has since merged with CBS and has leveraged its library of TV shows and movies through Pluto TV. ViacomCBS reported back in February that it had 22 million monthly viewers. ViacomCBS now expects Pluto TV’s viewership to double in the next two years. By November, the company reported having 36 million viewers globally and doubling its advertising revenue. A global pandemic forcing people indoors definitely helped.
Fox Corporation bought tubi for $440 million in March, adding 20,000 new titles to the streaming service. In October, Tubi added live news channels from local Fox stations in about 24 of the top markets in the U.S. NBC News Now, CBC and Euronews are also part of the tubi news lineup.
Even more niche players have jumped into streaming live TV.
Plex added 80+ live channels back in July. The lineup has a number of channels also carried by Pluto TV, XUMO and The Roku Channel.
Plex bolstered its on-demand movie library a couple of months earlier by partnering with Crackle.
Once a software hub for aggregating home movie and music collection, Plex pivoted its business in June 2017 by offering a channel guide and DVR service for over-the-air channels.
A Plex spokesperson told me over the summer the company has plans to integrate its over-the-air channel guide with its live TV streaming lineup.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble