Roku launched its own streaming movie channel in September. It is available to owners of modern Roku set-top boxes, streaming sticks, and TVs. The Roku Channel provides movies from major studios like Lionsgate, MGM, Sony Pictures, and others. TV shows curated from existing Roku channel publishers such as American Classics and PopcornFlix are included as well. Everything on the channel is free to stream, but it is ad-supported.
The Roku Channel
This is a bare-bones app that provides movies and some curated content from other services. On the main menu, the movies are listed in different categories like Thrillers, Drama, Comedy, etc. It uses your Roku account to keep track of what you have watched and where you left off.
While the movies are ad-supported, when you select a flick, it launches directly into the movie. It doesn’t require that you sit through three to four commercials before seeing the movie. Most other live and on-demand services out there do require that annoyance. From my experience so far, the commercial breaks aren’t anything like you’d experience from a typical cable network, either. The breaks appear about every 30 minutes and run three to four commercials under two minutes. It’s nice to dive into a movie and not be interrupted with a commercial break until a half hour in.
Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of features and functionality you would expect from a video streaming app. You get the basic playback controls to play the movies but it lacks simple things like being able to favorite titles and create playlists. It doesn’t even include search from within the app.
But to be fair the channel is still in its early days and Roku has plenty of time to make more additions to functionality. And in the end, it’s free movies so we can’t complain too much.
When it comes to content, the movie library needs more attention. Don’t expect to see any of the latest blockbusters on this channel. There is an okay amount of titles from different genres so there should be something of interest for everyone in the family. Another interesting category is for TV shows. It has old episodes of day-time talk shows from the likes of Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, and Jerry Springer — those of you old enough might like checking those our for nostalgia sake.
Still, the library does need to be expanded. I’d imagine that will happen over time since the company has struck deals with some major movie studios.
The Roku Channel will work an any Roku device launched on or after June 2011. If you don’t see it yet don’t worry. The company is doing a slow rollout to different devices over the coming weeks. You will most likely find it under the New & Notable section in the Streaming Channels guide.
If you’re the owner of a Roku device, how has your experience been with The Roku Channel so far? Leave a comment below and let us know what your opinion on what you find good or bad.