Last month, Roku announced plans to sell subscriptions directly for several premium video services, including Showtime, Starz, Epix and others through its Roku channel. Today, that effort is starting. Customers will be able to pay the monthly subscription charges through their existing Roku account, keeping everything in one invoice, and the content of each provider will be available within The Roku Channel.
It's a similar approach to the additional paid "channels" such as HBO, Showtime and CBS All Access that Amazon offers to Prime Video customers. Roku believes that people might find that it is a more convenient subscription manager since a recurring membership is not required. Each service that offers a subscription will have a 30-day free trial. What is less convenient is that Roku does not have HBO among its partners, so it will have to obtain (and pay) that elsewhere.
Premium subscriptions begin to be implemented today in the US UU., According to the company:
It is expected that all compatible devices will receive the update in the coming weeks, starting with the Roku players and ending with the Roku TVs. Customers can check if their device can access premium subscriptions when starting The Roku Channel from their Roku device. If the device has received the update, a new row called "Premium Subscriptions" will appear below the Featured row.
The Roku channel is available on the company's broadcast devices, on Samsung smart TVs and on the web, but it also integrates with Roku's main mobile application, which makes subscriptions and existing free content a bit faster to access. That update is affecting iOS today and is expected to reach Android by "mid-February". Leaving subscriptions aside for a moment, Roku's advertising channel will continue to offer free movies and TV shows to users who sign up for a Roku account. The company says that it is currently broadcasting more than 10,000 movies / shows.