Roku’s new channel with free movies and TV goes live for all

Top streaming media device maker Roku announced in September it was launching its own channel featuring free movies and TV shows, including those it licensed itself and those aggregated from other channels across its platform. However, the channel was not immediately available to all Roku customers, as it was a phased rollout.

That rollout has now completed, the company says this morning.

That means the Roku Channel is today available across all of Roku’s current generation devices – that is, those introduced after June, 2011.

The channel establishes Roku as a source of free video itself, similar to Walmart’s Vudu (via its “Movies on Us” selection) and Sony’s Crackle, instead of just a place to find other streaming services’ offerings.

However, this isn’t the first time Roku has created its own, curated selections of streaming content for its users – it had done this before with its “Roku Recommends” section in 2011 and again with a “4K Spotlight” section in 2015. But it is now making its own deals to license content from studios, instead of merely aggregating content from other channels hosted on its platform.

At launch, the company has licensed content from studios like Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers. It has also pulled in content from other channel publishers, like American Classics, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark, and YuYu.

Because this is free content, you shouldn’t expect to find new releases or current shows on this channel. To give you an idea of the type of content, Roku says that today you’re able to stream “Mission: Impossible 3,” “Beauty Shop,” “Philadelphia,” and “Zookeeper,” and hundreds of other titles.

In addition to helping users find things to watch, the new channel will serve as another means for newly-IPO’d Roku to generate revenue. It will sell ads against the licensed content and participate in a rev-share arrangement with the content it aggregates.

Users won’t see the channel appear unless they add it directly, either by going to the channel store on the web and adding it there, or browsing the on-device channel store. There, you’ll find The Roku Channel under Streaming Channels section in the “Featured,” “New & Notable,” and “Movies & TV” categories.

The channel is only available to U.S. users at this time, due to licensing deals.