Warner Music Launches First Free FAST Channels, Exclusively on Roku Channel

WMX Pop, WMX Rock and WMX Hip-Hop get exclusive three-month window on Roku platform

WMX FAST Channels Roku Channel
Courtesy of Warner Music Group/WMX

Warner Music Group has punched its way into the free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) segment, with the launch of a trio of genre-based channels exclusively on the Roku Channel.

The new channels from the music company — WMX Pop, WMX Rock and WMX Hip-Hop — are now available to stream for free on the Roku Channel through the service’s Live TV Guide. WMG is giving Roku a three-month exclusive window on the FAST channels for the U.S. before widening distribution to other platforms.

The new FAST channels come from WMX, the division WMG formed a year ago that houses the company’s content, ecommerce, fan experience and commercial services businesses.

Each of the three music and entertainment linear channels will feature music videos and concerts from WMG’s global catalog of artists as well as original programming from WMG’s media brands including Uproxx, HipHopDX, Songkick, Cover Nation, The Pit and Lasso Nation.

In addition, the FAST channels will premiere exclusive new series, starting with “Iconic Records: Life After Death,” a new show exploring the legacy of late music artists. The first installment will cover Notorious B.I.G., the rapper who was murdered in 1997, which is hosted and executive-produced by radio personality Angie Martinez (“The Voice of New York”). The channels also will stream other WMX originals, including Uproxx series “People’s Party With Talib Kweli” and “Fresh Pair” starring Just Blaze and Katty Customs.

“FAST channels was an obvious next step for us given viewing trends and consumption of music content on [over-the-top streaming platforms],” said Ben Blank, president of WMX’s media and content business. “It’s important for us to be where our audiences is.” He added, “Our OTT presence was not something we had concentrated on… but it’s a huge opportunity given that we have a phenomenal amount of content going back over the last 70 years.”

As for why WMX opted for an exclusive window with Roku, Blank said, “We wanted to make some noise with the Roku Channel… Roku has been an amazing partner, this is new for us, and it made sense to be in front of their audience.”

Programming in WMX Pop, WMX Rock and WMX Hip-Hop will be refreshed daily, according to Blank.

For the Roku Channel, the three WMX FAST services represent its first direct deal with a music company, adding to its lineup of channels from partners including Vevo and iHeartMedia. Last month, Roku Channel expanded its live channel guide — which now features more than 350 channels in the U.S. — to include programming from entertainment brands including NBCUniversal Telemundo, AMC Networks, QVC and HSN.

“We’ve been trying to partner with a label for quite some time, and WMG is one of the largest globally,” said Ashley Hovey, head of AVOD for the Roku Channel. “Roku is the leader in streaming, and [Warner Music] wanted the largest partner to make a splash. We are able to do a lot to promote their content.”

Warner Music’s WMX encompasses five vertical segments: commercial services, media, artist and fan experiences, ecommerce and retail, and audience strategy. WMX’s video content generates some 56 billion monthly global views across platforms. Its owned-and-operated properties include youth culture and music destination Uproxx; Songkick, a live music discovery platform; HipHopDX, a leading hip-hop media brand; Cover Nation, the largest community of cover song creators and fans; The Pit, a hard rock and heavy metal news publication; and Lasso Nation, a social-first country music and lifestyle publisher.

VIP+ Special Report: Inside FAST’s Meteoric Rise