Showtime, Starz Subscriptions Join Roku Channel Lineup

Roku Channel - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Roku

The premium add-ons will be available for purchase alongside Roku's free, ad-supported streaming channel.

Roku is expanding the programming offerings for its streaming video channel. 

The company's Roku Channel, which is available for free with ads on Roku set-top boxes, TVs and other streaming devices, will start offering premium add-on subscriptions for Showtime, Starz, Epix and other networks. 

All told, Roku plans to offer more than 25 add-on subscriptions. It will be the first time it has added paid programming to the Roku Channel, which launched in September 2017 with a curated selection of free movies and TV shows from across Roku's channel partners. 

"We're focused on making it easy to find great entertainment of all types on the platform and adding Premium Subscriptions is a natural evolution for the Roku Channel," said Rob Holmes vp programming and engagement at Roku. "As a top five channel by active account reach, the Roku Channel is already a great source for free, ad-supported entertainment and provides significant user engagement. By making it easy for users to discover, subscribe to and watch Premium Subscriptions, we believe this offering will result in increased subscriptions and user engagement for our subscription partners and an even better user experience."

Other channels that will be available via the premium subscription offering are CollegeHumor's Dropout, Noggin, Smithsonian Channel Plus and Tastemade.

Premium add-ons have become a popular way for streaming services to provide expanded programming offerings for consumers and generate additional revenue. Most platforms take a cut of the revenue generated from those subscription fees. For example, Amazon's Prime Video Channels product, which offers third-party subscriptions to CBS All Access, HBO and others, generated around $1.7 billion in 2018, according to estimates in a BMO Capital Markets report

For Roku, which began its life as a maker of streaming devices, the expansion of the Roku Channel signals an increased focus on diversifying its revenue away from purely device sales. In November, the company reported third-quarter revenue of $173 million. The majority of that revenue, around $100 million, was generated through advertising on its platform.

Roku's premium subscriptions product will offer one-click signup and the ability to start free trials. All of the subscriptions purchased through the Roku Channel will appear on one monthly bill. The third-party subscriptions will become available in late January and continue to roll out through early 2019.

Roku is also launching the Roku Channels on its iOS and Android app. It will be available by late January.