The CW launched a new channel on Roku Tuesday that doesn’t turn away cord cutters: The network’s new Roku app doesn’t require users to create an account, or authenticate with their pay TV credentials. Instead, it simply serves up the most recent five episodes of shows like “Jane the Virgin,” “Supergirl” and “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” to anyone and everyone.
The CW Roku channel will also stream select live events, including the iHeartRadio Music Festival next month. The network is planning to launch similar apps for other streaming devices, including Apple TV and Fire TV, in the coming days.
By making these episodes available for free and without any kind of registration, the CW is bucking a trend towards paid and authenticated streaming apps. Networks like ABC and FX require users to authenticate with their pay TV operator account information in order to stream recent episodes on Roku and other connected TV platforms.
Other networks, including CBS, HBO and Starz, also sell access to their content directly online. HBO Now for example charges $15 per month for access to its app, whereas CBS All Access charges $6 for ad-supported viewing.
The CW restructured its online rights this summer, striking a deal with Netflix to deliver entire seasons of its shows to the streaming service eight days after the final episodes of those seasons air on TV. The network also decided not to to license in-season episodes to any other streaming service, ending a previous deal with Hulu.
This now puts the onus on the CW to monetize those episodes on its own while the current season is still on air. As a result, it is looking to reach the biggest number of eyeballs, which means not using any authentication schemes. In other words: In CW’s monetization model, cord cutters without access to a pay TV subscription are a welcome part of the mix.