Streaming media technologist Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) began rolling out a major update on June 1. The media-viewing platform across most of Roku's hardware and software offerings is gaining a live TV channel guide. At the same time, the addition of more than 30 free linear content channels just lifted the channel count in that category above 100.
These upgrades are happening inside the Roku Channel, an ad-supported content collection at the heart of Roku's revenue-generating business ideas.
New channels inside this portfolio include ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC) channels such as Game Show Central and several MTV-branded stations, all stamped with Viacom's Pluto TV brand. Media publisher Conde Nast is also well-represented by channels like Conde Nast Traveler and Vanity Fair. Live news stations include Reuters and ABC News.
These stations are truly live. Roku users cannot pause, rewind, or fast-forward the content shown under the Roku Channel's live TV umbrella, which makes the experience similar to watching traditional live TV without a digital video recorder.
"Just because people are cutting the cord doesn't mean that they hate linear, right?" said Ashley Hovey, Roku's director of advertisement-based video on demand (AVOD). "They want more free content. They want easier to access content."
The live TV guide is another step in a more traditional direction. The guide lets users flip between the Roku Channel's live TV streams just like they would do on a cable box.
All of the live content in the Roku Channel is free to view in exchange for 8 minutes of advertising time per hour. Roku sells the ad spots on an ad-spot bidding platform built around assets from ad specialist Dataxu, which Roku acquired for $150 million last fall.