Just days ahead of the return of “Game of Thrones,” Roku has forged a deal with HBO that now gives the media device maker the ability to sell the premium channel as a subscription through its dedicated content hub, The Roku Channel. Originally a destination for free and ad-supported movies and TV, The Roku Channel in January rolled out a significant update that put it in more direct competition with Amazon Channels with the launch of premium subscriptions.
Now, alongside the free content, Roku users can choose to subscribe to premium channels like Showtime, Starz, EPIX and others — including, as of this week, HBO. Those channels’ content can then be streamed directly through The Roku Channel itself on TVs as well as within Roku’s updated mobile app.
When The Roku Channel’s subscription platform made its debut earlier this year, HBO was one of the biggest names to come up missing, along with Netflix and Hulu.
But Netflix and Hulu don’t tend to allow subscriptions through third-party platforms like The Roku Channel (or, more recently, via Apple TV+). HBO, however, does. The premium channel and home to “Game of Thrones” is available as an add-on across a range of streaming services and à la carte TV providers — including The Roku Channel’s biggest competitor, Amazon Prime Video Channels.
Without HBO in The Roku Channel, users who wanted to stream one of TV’s biggest shows would have to leave Roku’s hub and navigate back to the Roku home screen where they could access HBO directly through its dedicated Roku app. That was bad news for Roku, as it’s trying to keep users’ viewing activity centralized and contained in one spot in order to promote the ad-supported fare that helps Roku make money.
Roku says users can now opt into a free seven-day HBO trial in The Roku Channel, which then converts to a $14.99 per month subscription if the trial isn’t cancelled.
Those who subscribe to HBO through The Roku Channel won’t be able to log in to HBO’s standalone apps, HBO NOW or HBO Go, but will instead watch its content through Roku’s hub, where its programs are featured alongside Roku’s more than 10,000 free movies and TV episodes.
Like other Roku Channel subscriptions, HBO will appear on users’ one monthly bill.
For consumers, keeping all your add-on TV subscriptions in one place makes it easier to track what you’re paying for, and simplifies the cancellation process when you’re ready to adjust your cord cutting mix.