Roku is unlocking premium content from HBO for the first time without a subscription, with its second-annual holiday streaming fest, Stream-a-thon. The promotion will see Roku offering the full first season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” for free to anyone with a Roku device. Also included during the event are full seasons and select episodes from other premium channels like Cinemax, Showtime, Starz and others.
The Stream-a-thon is a promotional effort aimed at capturing viewership at a time when many people are off work and relaxing at home, often watching TV. This year, the Steam-a-thon runs from December 26, 2019 through January 1, 2020.
This is the second year Roku has hosted the event, whose larger goal is to encourage Roku users to sign up for one of the premium channel subscriptions offered through Roku’s platform. The sampling of seasons and shows is meant to get viewers hooked on the content, as well as draw in users to Roku’s free content hub, The Roku Channel, where it features ad-supported free movies and shows year-round.
In addition to season 1 of “Game of Thrones,” other full first seasons being made available include Cinemax’s “Warrior,” Starz’s “Power” and Showtime’s “Billions,” “The Affair” and “Ray Donovan,” among others. Several individual episodes are being unlocked as well, including those from HBO’s “Barry,” “Chernobyl,” “Euphoria,” Sesame Street” and “Succession,” plus Showtime’s “Kidding” and EPIX’s “Get Shorty,” “Pennyworth” and “Punk.”
The full list of participants includes Cinemax, CONtv, Dove Channel, EPIX, FitFusion, The Great Courses Signature, HBO, Hallmark Movies Now, Pantaya, Smithsonian Channel Plus, Starz, Showtime, Stingray Karaoke and UP Faith & Family.
HBO also has a deal with Amazon to offer select seasons of its older shows, like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “True Blood,” “Deadwood,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Oz,” “Six Feet Under” and others which are free to Prime members. But those aren’t actually free to stream because they require an annual Amazon Prime membership to watch.
Related to the launch of Stream-of-thon, Roku is also for the first time offering a combination HBO + Cinemax value pack that discounts the subscriptions to $20.99 per month instead of paying for them separately at $14.99 and $9.99, respectively.