Roku announced today that it has increased the number of live linear channels on its ad-supported The Roku Channel by more than 100, while at the same time introducing a new accompanying Live TV Guide to help users better navigate through all of the new live selections.

The new channels can be found in The Roku Channel app on Roku media streamers and Roku TVs. The new channel grid guide will be rolling out to Roku devices in coming weeks.

Roku said the expanded offering comes in response to a strong appetite among its viewers for streaming live TV, with free being of key importance during this difficult economic climate. In fact, Roku said viewing free TV in The Roku Channel grew substantially faster since its launch in 2018 than any other area of the Roku platform.

The Roku Channel launched within the Roku platform with more than 500 movie and television program selections and now offers access to more than 100,000 titles, 20,000 of which comes from the Kids & Family section.

The new free channels include a host of popular franchises and genres, with a number of the same or similar channels available on other free linear TV streaming apps like Pluto TV or LG’s LG Channels (some of which are powered by Xumo). The LG Channels service is offered on many of the TV maker’s webOS-based smart TVs. Meanwhile, some of the new Roku channels come from other competitive live TV channel services like Pluto TV (owned in part by CBS) and Xumo (owned in part by Comcast and Panasonic).

In addition to kids programming, the expanded Roku Channel selection is anchored by a variety of additional news channels to crucially help keep viewers informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the new channels include: ABC News Live, BNC, Cheddar News, Newsy, NewsMaxTV, Now This and others.

Similarly popular, new sports offerings include: ACC ON, bein Sports Network, Adventure Sports Network, EDGEsports, ESTV, Fubo Sports Network, MavTV Select, Outside TV, Stadium and others.

Movies and special interest fare include BET Pluto, CMT Pluto, Comedy Central, Crime, Deal No Deal, Filmrise Action, Game Show Network, Gravitas Movies, MGM Sci-Fi, MTV Pluto, and Wipeout Xtra.

New Kids and Family channels include: Ameba, Battery Pop, Kidz Bop, Kid Gamer TV, Pocket Watch, Rainbow Ruby, Toon Goggles, TG Jr., Teletubbies and others.

The Roku Channel is also adding its first selection of Spanish language channels including: AFV En Espanol, Americateve, Latido Music, Love Nature en Espanol, Moovimex by Pangalo, and Pongalo NovelaClub.

Other new Lifestyle Channel fare includes: The Bob Ross Channel, Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, DIY Daily, The Design Network, Food 52, Glamour, GQ, Lively Place, Revry, This Old House, Vanity Fair, Voyager Documentaries, Vogue and more.

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The expanded lineup of free channels is addressing a large pocket of demand emerging during the shelter-at-home actions. In the crisis, viewers have become more dependent than ever on free TV viewing to pass the time as the economy grinds down.

According to Roku estimates, approximately 74% of U.S. households have at least one connected device and an estimated 60 million U.S. households may join the ranks of the cordless in the next five years.

“Consumers are being driven by value, and this current economic climate continues to fuel that need,” said Ashley Hovey, Roku director of ad-based video on demand growth. “People are really looking for free and free is a huge driver on our platform. It’s something The Roku Channel really leans into.”

She said more than 27 million U.S. households are now listed among the “cord-cutters” who have dropped traditional cable, satellite or telco TV services, and among those, many are searching for free options that The Roku Channel addresses.

In addition to Roku devices and Roku TVs, The Roku Channel is now found on platforms including: the Web, iOS, Android, and select Samsung TVs internationally, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

As a result, the company said it is experiencing rapidly growing reach, engagement and scale. Roku has become the No. 1 streaming platform with 39.8 million active accounts as of Q1 2020 and more than 13.2 billion hours streamed in Q1 2020.

“Streaming is mainstream with the acceleration of cord-cuttng, and new major OTT services are launching,” Hovey said.

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By Greg Tarr

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