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Roku Starts Selling Streaming Services, Including New Epix Service, via the Roku Channel

Streaming device maker Roku is officially getting into the subscription marketplace business: Later this month, Roku will begin to sell premium video subscription services like Showtime, and Starz and Epix via its Roku Channel, the company announced Wednesday.

The offer is similar to Amazon’s existing Amazon Channels video subscription marketplace, and is going to provide Roku with another revenue stream for its growing services business. Variety was first to report last summer that Roku was planning to resell video subscription services.

Roku first launched the Roku Channel as a free, ad-supported streaming service on its devices in September of 2017. The company continued to add new content, including live news and sports, over the past few months, turning it into one of the most popular channels on the Roku platform, while also launching it on the web and on Samsung smart TVs.

‘It’s been a great first year,” for the Roku Channel, said Roku programming vice president Rob Holmes in an interview with Variety.

Now, the company is expanding the Roku Channel with paid subscriptions, with some of its 25 launch partners including Showtime, Starz, Epix, CuriosityStream, Hopster, the Smithsonian ChannelPlus, Tastemade and Viewster Anime. Each channel can be browsed in its entirety before subscribing.

Signed-in Roku Channel users will be able to add new subscription services to their a la carte line-up with one click, thanks to a streamlined Roku Pay payment process. “We will consolidate it all under a single bill,” said Holmes.

Notably absent from the list of paid services is HBO Now. Holmes declined to comment on specific channels, but said that the company was talking to “a wide range of parties.”

Also notable: Roku’s announcement is the confirmed launch of a standalone Epix online video subscription service. The premium network has thus far only been available via pay TV providers, and is not yet part of Amazon Channels. Epix executive vice president and general manager Monty Sahran told Variety last February that the network had plans to go into this space, saying: “Direct-to-consumer is very important. It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it.”

Related to the announcement, Roku also revealed that it was launching the Roku Channel as part of its mobile app. This will also help subscribers with another shortcoming: At least at launch, consumers who sign up for a paid subscription service via the Roku Channel won’t be able to log into the standalone app of the service. Instead, they will have to watch every video directly through the Roku Channel, even on mobile devices.

It’s no surprise that Roku is launching this marketplace: Amazon Channels has been wildly successful for the ecommerce giant, with The Diffusion Group estimating earlier this year that 55 percent of all a la carte direct-to-consumer video subscriptions were sold on Channels.

Reselling paid services via the Roku Channel is also going to help Roku to further grow its platform business, as the company likes to call advertising, licensing and other non-hardware revenue streams. Roku’s platform revenue surpassed $100 million during the company’s most recent quarter for the first time in its corporate history, growing to the tune of 74% year-over-year.

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