Roku has begun offering multiple local cable stations for free, for the first time ever, to users of its streaming channel. Deadline previously reported that the company partnered with NBCUniversal to offer local NBC stations on the Roku Channel at no additional cost. The outlet also stated that this is the first time The Roku Channel is offering local stations to its streamers, which are said to be around 80 million people.
"Audiences are increasingly opting to consume news through streaming, and local news has consistently been one of the top requested categories by our users," Ashley Hovey — head of The Roku Channel, AVOD — said in a press release shared by Deadline. "We're excited to work with NBCUniversal Local and the NBC Stations to expand our relevant live TV offering for streamers and to bring news from multiple major cities to millions of viewers across the country to easily access and enjoy." The local channels are from markets in New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington DC, Hartford, CT and South Florida. They will be able to be accessed through the on-screen guide on the Roku Channel's main interface.
Meredith McGinn — EVP of diginets and original production, NBCUniversal Local — also issued a statement on the big news. "Local news has never been more vital to helping our audiences stay informed about what's happening in their communities," McGinn said. "We look forward to bringing our NBC local news channels and our stations' best-in-class journalism to the millions of people the Roku Channel reaches and to launching more of our NBC local news channels to expand streamers' access to our local news content."
In another recent streaming partnership, Roku signed a deal that will see the service add a number of popular movies to its library. Deadline previously reported that Lionsgate and Roku have struck an agreement for The Roku Channel to get the film studio's new movies after they finish their run on Starz. Deadline added that this is a "multi-year output arrangement" and "covers theatrical releases starting this year."
Among the movies that Roku users will eventually be able to stream for free are the films of the John Wick franchise, Expendables 4 and the Eli Roth-directed Borderlands, a blockbuster adaptation of the video game franchise by the same name. Additional Lionsgate films which Roku streamers will be able to watch in the future include the new Nicolas Cage movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, a film version of the iconic Judy Blume book. Viewers will also get to see a follow-up to the 2017 heartwarming family drama, Wonder.