Roku has begun supporting 8K UHD streaming content through The Roku Channel, via a premium subscription to The Explorers Channel, available to owners of 8K Roku TVs.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Roku and Roku TV manufacturing partner TCL, which was the first TV brand to introduce 8K models to the Roku TV platform. Roku said The Explorers 8K content will be available to other brands of 8K Roku TVs going forward.

TCL said The Explorers 8K premium subscription service – normally priced at $2.99/month, with 10% of revenues donated to The Explorers Foundation to protect biodiversity – is being made available through an exclusive limited-time offer to owners of 8K Roku TV models at no cost for the first three months.

According to the manufacturers’ statement, “TCL proudly announces that Roku has added 8K premium content to their entertainment offering –The Explorers 8K Channel. The Explorers is a global initiative creating the first inventory in images of the natural, cultural and human heritage of Earth in Ultra High Definition at up to 8K resolution.”

Through the channel, 8K documentary content features with subjects ranging from Arctic glaciers to the warm waters of French Polynesia are now available on the Explorers platform.

Roku officially announced the 8K streaming additions through a blog by Bill Wilson on the Roku website Tuesday.

“Roku is now supporting the award-winning channel, The Explorers – which houses the highest standard of 8K HDR/4K HDR content all centered on planet Earth. This global initiative is creating the first inventory of beautiful imagery that will give you a look at the natural, cultural and human heritage of Earth in 33 million pixels of Ultra High Definition. From the Arctic glaciers to French Polynesia warm waters, the Explorers 8K platform, features hundreds of incredible videos with new content posted daily,” Wilson wrote.

He continued: “The Explorers, available for free on all Roku TV models (8K/4K/FHD/HD), offers a premium movie catalog in Ultra High Definition. The documentaries highlight the undisputed beauty of the Earth and show the lives of the local people. Dive into this razor-sharp 8K resolution today on the award–winning 8K TCL Roku TV 6-Series; available for purchase at both Best Buy and Amazon. Stay tuned for more models coming soon.”

The content will compliment clips available through the YouTube channel that previously have been available to stream in 8K resolution on TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TVs, TCL pointed out.

Due to the as-yet-unresolved contractual disagreements between YouTube owner Google and Roku, the YouTube app is scheduled to be removed from the Roku Store next month. However, Roku TV owners with previous installations of the Roku app will be able to continue streaming the service. Only new TV purchases or those TVs that have not yet had the YouTube app installed would be locked out after the current contract expires.

The new 8K content on The Explorers Channel in the Roku Channel section will give new TCL 8K Roku TV owners the ability to continue to access streamed 8K content going forward.

“The power of 8K resolution is undeniable. The quickly-growing availability of content in 8K from a range of creators is being driven by the wide availability of cameras and editing software that support 8K resolution, as well as demand created by owners of powerful 8K TVs like the 6-Series 8K TCL Roku TV,” TCL’s statement said.

TCL is now launching the first 8K Roku TVs as part of its 2021 6-Series 8K TCL Roku TV series.

TCL 8K Series-6 Roku TV 65-inch 65R648, $1,999.99

TCL 8K Series-6 Roku TV 75-inch 75R648, $2,999.99

“Launching TCL’s first 8K resolution TVs in North America this year in partnership with Roku was very significant. We’re making 8K more accessible with our premium televisions, and we are also making bold moves with Roku to ensure there is 8K resolution content out there for our users to enjoy. And with the growing availability of 8K content such as The Explorers, TCL’s deep vertical integration of TV panel production allows the easily-accessible 6-Series 8K TV to deliver powerfully sharp picture performance with impressive immersion,” stated Chris Larson, TCL senior VP. “As consumers continue to adopt larger screens for their homes, the need for greater screen resolution becomes more apparent. So TCL will continue to innovate, work closely with the 8K Association, and serve entertainment enthusiasts advanced technology as we enter this next stage of 8K discovery, with new game consoles and streaming services rolling out.”

TCL executives said that they believe “as the availability of 8K resolution cameras becomes ubiquitous, the rising number of 8K display owners will demand the best quality 8K resolution for superior video content. Just as 4K resolution content and displays have proliferated over the years, all TVs 65 inches and larger are expected to feature 8K resolution within the coming years, so premium 8K content like The Explorers will become much more widely available.”

“The quality of our Earth Inventory in 8K HDR allows us to transport the audience to the very heart of the subject. We are excited to know that the transformative beauty of The Explorers Earth Inventory will now be available at the maximum resolution and quality in homes through the TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TV,” said Olivier Chiabodo, Chief Executive Officer, The Explorers.

“8K HDR enhances images with stunning sharpness and depth of field,” said Gregory Martoglio, world-renowned nature cinematographer and frequent contributor to The Explorers. “The powerful images of the natural world that we’ve preserved in 8K video look spectacular on The Explorers Channel through the TCL 6-Series 8K TV.”

TCL 8K 6-Series Roku TVs are available in 65-inches (65R648) and 75-inches (75R648). The televisions will display 8K content natively or upscaled to near 8K quality from 4K UHD sources via TCL’s AiPQ processing engine technology.

The sets also support the latest HDMI standards and are the first 8K TVs to have earned THX Certified Game Mode status, TCL said. Both models will be ready to present additional 8K content as it evolves and “new devices come to market that are ready to deliver 8K movies, games and more,” TCL assured.

The TCL 6-Series Roku TV models are based on Mini-LED full-array backlight technology for smooth, bright illumination. TCL’s Mini-LED implementation “powers up to 240 Contrast Control Zones for brilliantly bright and deeply dark areas of the image, delivering unparalleled depth and dimension.”

Other features include Quatum Dot color enhancement technology, a brushed metal design and an HDR Pro Pack supporting Dolby Vision dynamic HDR and HD10 for greater brightness and contrast among a full palette of rich colors.

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The Explorers collaborative app is currently available in 170 countries and 17 languages. Over 10 million devices have downloaded the app around the world to watch The Explorers’ images in the highest 8K HDR standards. The Explorers teams fulfill an educational goal through their encounters and expeditions – to know better to protect better.

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By Greg Tarr

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