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Roku Launches Free App for “The Roku Channel”, Brings Free Streaming Service Without Roku Device

Stephanie Sengwe

Roku today announced the launch of a new free mobile app that brings The Roku Channel to iOS and Android smartphones, even if you don’t have a Roku device. The new app gives users access to free on-demand entertainment as well as live TV and news.

The mobile app will be standalone. The company will keep a separate Roku App that can still be used as a remote control for your streaming player or Roku TV.

While Roku is one of the most popular distributors of streaming players in the market right now, the launch of the mobile app now allows them to compete more directly with other free on-demand streaming services such as Tubi, Pluto TV, Xumo, Plex, and Peacock.

The Roku Channel, similar to services like Tubi, Pluto TV, and Peacock, offers free on-demand and a selection of live and linear channels. The new Roku Channel app allows users to sign-up and stream premium subscriptions such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz, within it, even if they don’t have a Roku device.

Roku also announced they are expanding their free live/linear channel lineup in the U.S. — surpassing 115 channels. The platform will now offer channels, such as Cinedigm’s Bloody Disgusting TV, The Craftistry from Studio71, Circle, HappyKids.tv, Hi-YAH! - The Martial Arts Channel, iFood.tv, The LEGO Channel, Maverick Black Cinema, Moviesphere Skills + Thrills, Venn and WeatherSpy.

Roku will also bring a variety of Spanish-language entertainment including Sony Canal Novelas, Sony Canal Comedias, and Sony Canal Compentencias from Sony Pictures Television and Tastemade en Español, starting September 29.

Roku says “The Roku Channel” now reaches an estimated 43 million households. While it’s not a direct comparison, ViacomCBS announced that fellow competitor Pluto TV reached 26.5 million domestic monthly active users in Q2 2020. Fox-owned Tubi just announced that they have 33 million active users of the free streaming service.