Roku Unveils On-Screen Program Guide, Adds Live Linear Networks To Roku Channel

Dade Hayes

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Roku has added a live, on-screen program guide to its free, ad-supported Roku Channel, enabling it to more closely emulate the experience of watching linear TV.

In addition to the guide, Roku is adding more than 30 new channels to the existing lineup of 100-plus viewing options that can be accessed via the Roku Channel. The changes were expected to take effect by midnight on Monday.

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While the new offerings include lifestyle, movie, sports and kids programming delivered on demand, many are in the live news category. The rollout of the guide and new channels coincides with a period when news is a key part of an overall boom in streaming. Roku recently reported an 80% surge in viewing hours in April compared with the same month in 2019. New channels include ABC News Live, Cheddar and Reuters TV.

Viewers can access the live guide, which features 12 hours of programming information, via a branded, purple tile inside the Roku Channel. The guide information will then appear over programming, which will continue to play in the background.

Pluto TV, which launched in 2014, pioneered the use of an on-screen guide in the streaming realm. Viacom acquired it in early 2019 and has nearly doubled its active account base since the deal.

Introduced in 2017, the Roku Channel has become one of the top destinations on Roku, which has more than 40 million active accounts in the U.S. The Roku Channel earlier this spring expanded to the UK. While most offerings are free and supported by ads, premium networks like Starz, BET+ and Acorn TV have a presence on the channel, which helps drive subscription acquisition in the manner of Amazon Fire or Apple TV.

In May, the No. 1 top-viewed channel on YouTube, CoColemon, joined the Roku Channel lineup. Its shows in the kids and family category are among those accounting for one-fifth of the 100,000 movies and TV episodes available through the channel.

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