Last month, Roku announced plans to directly sell subscriptions for several premium video services, including Showtime, Starz, Epix, and others through its Roku Channel. Today, it’s kicking off that effort. Customers will be able to pay for the monthly subscription charges through their existing Roku account — keeping everything on one bill — and content from each provider will be accessible inside The Roku Channel.
It’s an approach that’s similar to the paid add-on “channels” such as HBO, Showtime, and CBS All Access that Amazon offers to Prime Video customers. Roku thinks people might find it to be a more convenient subscription manager since there’s no recurring membership required. Each service offering a subscription will have a free 30-day trial. What’s less convenient is that Roku doesn’t have HBO among its partners, so you’ll have to get (and pay for) that one elsewhere.
Premium subscriptions begin rolling out today in the US, according to the company:
All supported devices are expected to receive the update in the coming weeks, beginning with Roku players and concluding with Roku TVs. Customers can check if their device can access Premium Subscriptions by launching The Roku Channel from their Roku device. If the device has received the update, a new row called “Premium Subscriptions” will be visible below the Featured row.
The Roku Channel is available on the company’s streaming devices, Samsung Smart TVs (subscriptions aren’t available with Samsung TVs yet), and via the web, but it’s also being integrated with Roku’s main mobile app, making those subscriptions and the existing free content a bit faster to access. That update is hitting iOS today and is expected to arrive on Android in “mid-February.” Putting subscriptions aside for a moment, Roku’s ad-supported channel will continue to offer free movies and TV shows to users who sign up for a Roku account. The company says it’s currently streaming over 10,000 movies / shows.