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Roku Channel will offer premium subscriptions in addition to free content

Roku's digital media player used to require users to download individual apps (known as "channels" in Roku's ecosystem) for their favorite streaming services and add them to the homepage. Today, the company has announced that the Roku Channel will soon streamline users' access to streaming services in a single place by adding premium subscriptions.

The premium content will be offered alongside free, ad-supported content including movies, TV shows, news programs, and sports already available on the Roku Channel. Users will be able to opt to premium subscriptions from more than 25 providers including Showtime, Starz, EPIX, Baeble Music, CollegeHumor’s Dropout, and CuriosityStream. That means users will no longer need to download the standalone apps for each service once they subscribe to these networks through the Roku Channel.

Premium content providers will also offer at least seven days of free trial to users once they sign up using their existing Roku account. Consumers can manage their free and premium subscriptions in a single account and receive one monthly bill.

Rob Holmes, Vice President of Programming and Engagement at Roku, explained that users can even take a sneak peek at all available premium content before deciding to sign up. That's a more attractive model than other services that present a limited view of their offering or display only a splash screen for signup.

Roku also plans to update its mobile app for Android and iOS with support for video playback in the U.S. even without a Roku device. The premium subscriptions, which could be seen as Roku’s own take on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, will be available on Roku devices later this month as part of a phased rollout.

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