There's a reason Roku is our favorite streaming media player: it offers more content than any other player, with over 5,000 channels and 500,000 movies and TV episodes. More importantly, Roku offers the easiest way to sort through all of that content, with an unbiased search engine that lists all results by price — something you won't find on every player. But while Roku has always offered a platform for other services to stream from, the company is now offering its own content with the Roku Channel.
This new channel will be available on all current-generation Roku devices for free. Instead of following the subscription model of Netflix, the channel will include advertising. It should only see about half of the advertising you would see on broadcast television, and watchers may be happy to give a little of their attention to advertisements in exchange for free content.
While Roku isn't producing its own content, it will be distributing quality entertainment from big studios, including Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers. (Though some existing Roku publishers, including American Classics, FilmRise, Popcornflix, Vidmark and YuYu will also be part of the Roku Channel lineup.) Roku plans to play award-winning movies and classics, launching with titles like Ali, The Karate Kid and Legally Blonde, all streaming on demand. You can expect a rotating selection of content, with new movies joining the lineup every month.
Roku won't be the only place you'll find these movies, but it has one big advantage over the competition: it's free and easy to watch on your television. If you're tired of watching free streaming content from a tiny computer screen (as with Hulu) and don't want to pay for another streaming service, the Roku Channel may be just what you were waiting for. (And if the new channel isn't for you? Well, it's easy enough not to watch.)
If the Roku Channel has tipped the scales on buying a Roku, you have a lot of options that fit any budget:
- The $24.99 Roku Express offers all of Roku's entertainment options on a budget.
- The $39.25 Roku Streaming Stick offers portability with a tiny stick that can plug into any TV with an HDMI port.
- The $56.79 Roku Premiere offers budget-friendly 4K streaming.
- The $98.02 Roku Ultra adds HDR and an advanced remote to the Roku package.
- The Roku TV — available in a 720p 32" model and a 4K 55" model— offers all of the features of a Roku built into your television.
The Roku channel is rolling out to the latest Roku devices over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on your Roku to see when it shows up.
[Image credit: Roku]