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Roku Strikes Deal With Its Biggest Competitor

By Rhian Hunt - Jan 26, 2021 at 4:27PM

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The IMDb TV service will double its user base with the Roku alliance.

Amazon's (AMZN 0.25%) IMDb TV app will now appear on Roku (ROKU -2.76%) devices, offering Amazon's lineup of TV shows and movies alongside Roku's content. The free app had been competing with The Roku Channel, an ad-supported video-on-demand service similar to IMDb's.

Amazon could potentially double the number of viewers for its IMDb TV content with the partnership. Approximately 50 million customers currently use Fire TV monthly, the device where IMDb TV was chiefly available up until now. Roku integration will put the Amazon streaming app in the hands of 51.2 million active Roku platform users, Variety reports.

Streaming movies on a screen, with a video on demand menu and a person's hand holding a remote control.

Image source: Getty Images.

Roku's streaming accounts grew by 39% during 2020, exploding as people looked for home entertainment while the pandemic shut down most entertainment venues. According to Roku, streaming hours grew even faster, rising 55% year over year. Users watched 58.7 billion hours of streamed content during 2020, 17 billion of those hours, or 29% of the total, in the fourth quarter. These metrics are important to IMDb TV's success on the platform, since it is a free service supported by advertisements.

Neither company has revealed the exact terms of the deal. Mark Eamer, Amazon vice president of IMDb TV, said his company is aiming to deliver "our catalog of hit movies, acclaimed series, nostalgic TV and inventive IMDb TV Originals to Roku's engaged customers." The offerings will include the spy thriller TV series Alex Rider, Mad Men, Chicago Fire, Schitt's Creek, and many others.

Roku's shares rose 148% during a successful 2020, and the company had an ambitious strategic plan even before the Amazon partnership.

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