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.
For more news on streaming, how-to guides and reviews, head over to the main page of The Cord Cutting Report or follow the CCR on Google News.
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
This is actually pretty cool. Even channels like Comedy Central are free with this.
Depends on what area you live in how good an antenna is going to help you out. We don’t even have a store that sells and installs antennas anymore the last one shuttered about 5 years ago and shortly thereafter was determined to be unsafe and torn down. Amazing how this all goes hand-in-hand.
After the Federal Govt stole the old analog channels to go digital it allowed multiple stations to share a single transmitter. I don’t know if they are just built different to allow multi-channel transmissions or if that was a result of going digital. That encouraged stations that used to be local to go north and share a single transmitter which I read also allowed them to shift power levels at-will resulting in lower-powered stations which were their real savings.
The signal isn’t even as strong as it had been on analog and digital signals apparently don’t travel as well so we got cutoff from our local channels only leaving us an NBC station. At one point we used to be able to get NBC, 3 CBS stations of which one became FOX another CW, ABC, PBS and sometimes from Philly and Baltimore you could easily add 3 to 5 more stations depending on weather. No more.
I have noticed an appreciably better picture when streaming. I had known for years that you could never get top quality on cable/satellite systems because they want to cut bandwidth because it’s expensive so they were always looking for compression while charging you more for an HD signal. Which they probably just pocketed and didn’t increase your signal at all. Hard to know for sure since you can’t see them side by side.
You couldn’t even get the same signal at the same point in the next room which always made we wonder why someone wasn’t behind or ahead like 30 minutes or more somewhere and how could they all sync to the clock yet not be at the same place and if you messed with it to get them the same it wouldn’t last. How does that happen? Are they talking slower in my kitchen? I can align them with streaming which really confused me because I always thought it had to do with different length wire runs. But steamers are dependent on wireless signals which I would expect to be worse and yet they aren’t.
Trevor O Bartram says
Unfortunately, the recent FCC auction and channel repack, that moved the high UHF channels downward (to make room for additional cellphone channels) but created problems for OTA TV viewers. In my case, I had to go up into my attic to modify my antennas to improve reception. The biggest problem was PBS moved from UHF to VHF-lo so I had to add a dipole and band splitter to my UHF yagi to receive PBS. The FCC auction for this PBS channel move alone netted $160+ million. And multiple stations changed across cities across the U.S., so even with these huge sums, no help was offered. The removal of high UHF channels has actually made UHF antenna design easier.
It’s not that digital signals don’t travel as well, it’s more likely that your antenna is either suffering multipath or reduced transmitter power at the new frequency. I believe (but have no experience of) help is available to you from manufacturers such as Channel Master and Antennas Direct to solve your reception problems. If you don’t like the idea of working with manufacturers, this site has antenna suggestions that may work for you if your situation is fairly simple.
Unfortunately the repack has caused work (and expense) for households reliant on OTA reception. However with a little help and effort it should be possible to overcome these difficulties.
The important problem created is that we’re allowing the psudeo cable companies at the channel ownrship level to charge us to stream and at the same time require a subscription to certain cable/satelite companies before they’ll stream to you increasing the cost to more than what you were paying pre-cord-cutting potentially. What have we gained? We lowered their costs and we’re paying for the streaming and required to have a certain level of contribution to the bigger comanies to watch and we still have to watch commercials. Whose eating our cake?
Trevor O Bartram says
I’m afraid the only way to win at cord cutting is to jettison all cable packages, analyze your real needs then sign up for a one or two streaming packages, in our case Netflix and Prime (Prime has other benefits) then resist the temptation to sign up for more. Your streaming options are even greater if you don’t mind ads. Five years ago I would have suggested using Netflix DVD for your favorite cable TV shows (albeit delayed by months) but I don’t believe that works now because fewer shows are being released on DVD. Often network TV (PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX etc) may be received using an antenna (free, after initial outlay) and the picture quality is usually better than cable. Good luck.
L Cox says
My Roku TV is now useless without internet connection. Using more data, just to watch local channels from my antenna. To say I’m annoyed is an understatement. Yet another way to kick people while they’re down!