Roku just took its first step into programming with the launch of a free movie channel it’s calling the Roku Channel. Thanks to a series of licensing deals, Roku’s channel will feature movies from major Hollywood studios like Lionsgate, MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Warner Bros., Variety reports.
The Roku Channel’s available films, like Legally Blonde and The Karate Kid, are easy to find elsewhere, but this is the first time the company has licensed a large number of movies for a Roku-branded channel.
The Roku Channel is definitely a channel
This move is likely part of Roku’s plan to grow its user base and ad business ahead of its IPO. Unlike Amazon or Apple, which make hardware and video content, Roku has, until now, mostly stuck to selling hardware, like streaming boxes and video sticks. As Variety points out, the only other channel operated by Roku previously was one meant to showcase its devices’ 4K capabilities.
Still, the Roku Channel is just licensed content, not originals, which will allow Roku to continue to host streaming competitors like Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, whose original series are often quarantined from other services.
Roku says the channel will roll out in phases “over the coming weeks.”