Roku, a company that makes a video device allowing customers to watch streaming services like Netflix, announced on Wednesday (Jan. 2) that it’s starting a premium video channel service for a subscription fee, according to a report by Reuters.
Channels like Showtime, Starz and Noggin, as well as others, will be available on the Roku Channel, a free video service available to people who own a Roku streaming video device. Roku spun off from Netflix in 2008.
The move is similar to Amazon's 2015 launch of its own video service, which let users pick which services they wanted to use and pay for them on their own, without having to pay for cable service.
Amazon’s channels service has been a success, bringing in Amazon Prime subscribers and large amounts of revenue for the companies participating. It’s expected to have made $1.7 billion in revenue in 2018, which is double the previous year.
Media executives think the key to the popularity of the channels approach is convenience: consumers want to subscribe to services where they’re already watching TV.
“Premium Subscriptions on The Roku Channel have a number of convenient features that make subscription streaming easy including the ability to browse all available content before signing-up, free trials for all subscriptions, one-click sign-ups, and simple subscription management with a single monthly bill,” the company said on its blog. “Free, live, and premium content will be presented together in a single channel, creating a simple way for you to browse, search, and watch a wide variety of entertainment without switching between multiple streaming channels.”
Roku will also handle all the billing, which will let watchers subscribe directly to the Roku channel without having to put in credit card info. The channel will also be available on Roku’s mobile app, something the company has never done before.