HBO and Roku are doing their part to encourage U.S. consumers to shelter-in-place without going crazy during the COVID-19 crisis.

HBO announced Thursday that it is offering a selection of popular HBO series free to stream via its current streaming apps HBO NOW and HBO GO, as well as through online partners.

Then Roku revealed trying to make life easier on content-starved cord-cutting streamers like frustrated sports fans with Roku TVs and Roku streaming players by making it easier to find other forms of content, like the latest news.

Roku said it is now adding to Roku Home screens a new menu item called “Latest News” that brings users to a curated zone consisting of top news channels for national, local, and financial information, as well as content from All in one, convenient location.

In particular, sports fans left without NBA basketball games, NHL hockey, the start of the baseball season and cancellation of Wimbeldon Tennis, are starving for viewing options, Roku said. With sports viewing down significantly, these viewers have nearly doubled the amount of time spent viewing news, Roku said.

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Roku said the timing for the aggregated news channel is especially significant during the COVID-19 crisis as shelter-in-place shut-ins exhaust supplies of available programming to keep them amused. Roku said typical NBA and NHL sports fans are streaming more hours of television during the crisis and are opting to view movies and other fare, with news channel ranking at the top of the list.

In addition to Roku, AT&T’s HBO is doing its part to offer free quality content to stream for free as it prepares to fire up a new premium app service HBO Max later this year. HBO is preparing to open up to non-subscribers a free for a limited time selection of series, documentaries and hit Warner Bros. films on its current streaming apps.

The stay-at-home campaign, which is called #StayHomeBoxOffice, is offering up almost 500 hours of free premium programming for a limited time without a subscription.

Among the titles being made available to stream free of charge are all episodes of nine HBO series including: The Sopranos, Veep, True Blood, Silicon Valley, Ballers; Six Feet Under and The Wire. In addition, HBO is also offering 20 Warner Bros. movies from the current HBO library including: Pokémon Detective Pikachu, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Blinded By The Light, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Arthur, Arthurs 2: On The Rocks, My Dog Skip, The Bridges of Madison County, and Empire of the Sun.

All of the programming is available to stream by downloading the HBO NOW or HBO GO apps or by visiting or using a browser. It is also available in coming days for free via the HBO channels on participating distribution partners’ platforms (like The Roku Channel and Apple TV+), HBO said.

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By Greg Tarr

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