Expanding the scope of its relatively new ad-based, aggregated video offering, Roku will be adding live and linear news feeds from partners such as ABC News, Cheddar, Newsy and People TV to The Roku Channel.
Those additions, set to be rolled out in mid-May as part of an update, will arrive about seven months after the debut of The Roku Channel, which initially focused on TV shows and movies and packs in about half the ad-load of traditional TV. The Roku Channel is now a channel in the top 15 and is the number-three ad-supported channel on the platform, Roku said.
Among the additions, The Roku Channel is being billed as the OTT “launch destination” for ABC News Live, a new 24/7 live linear news stream from ABC News. Roku’s free, ad-based service is also coming to select Samsung smart TVs this summer.
In a discussion with users about what they wanted added to The Roku Channel, access to live news stood out, Rob Holmes, Roku’s VP of programming, said.
ABC News Live on Roku represents a “transformative opportunity” as viewers seek out new sources for news, Colby Smith, VP of ABC News Digital, said, noting that ABC News has been experimenting with this capability and can now ingest up to 10,000 live streams at any time.
ABC News Live will include elements from ABC’s broadcast channel but enable the network to deliver a director’s cut of sorts for The Roku Channel. The new streaming service will also be the centerpiece for a new, yet still unnamed show from ABC News, Smith noted. More about ABC News Live and the strategy behind it will be featured in the April 30 edition of Multichannel News.
Though The Roku Channel is the launch centerpiece, ABC News Live will also be available on the ABC News sites and apps.
Alongside the news offering for The Roku Channel, which is part of Roku’s fast-growing Platforms business, the streaming specialist is also adding a “Collections” feature for the offering that lets users drill down into curated thematic collections, such as Action and Horror, as well as a Continue Watching element that lets viewers pick up viewing where they left off.
The Roku Channel’s news offering is another example of a curated content that will employ the new Collections component.
Those updates will be phased in through a software update (OS 8.1) slated to start in May, and will also add a multicast private listening mode via the Roku mobile app for iOS and Android mobile devices that allow up to four users to listen in.