Roku launches premium subscriptions for Showtime, Starz, and other services today

Last month, Roku announced plans to
directly sell subscriptions for several premium video
, 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, 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.

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