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Roku Announces Roku OS 12 with New Features for Live Viewers; Release Date of Roku-Made Smart TVs

Jessica Lerner

The user experience has gotten better recently for cord-cutters streaming their favorite content through Roku. The company has revealed platform-wide operating system (OS) updates with the launch of Roku OS 12 and announced the features and availability of its new Roku Select and Plus Series TVs. With over 70 million active accounts in the United States, Roku’s OS is the operating system that is the top-selling smart TV OS in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

“As the #1 selling OS in three major markets, we understand what people want when it comes to a streaming platform – a simple yet delightful experience that feels personalized to them,” Roku’s VP of viewer products Preston Smalley said. “The latest updates to our powerful OS make Roku’s software even more intuitive and curated, so users can spend less time searching for content and more time enjoying their favorite entertainment.”

With their latest release of Roku OS 12, users will find even more to love with updates to Live TV, content discovery, Sports, the Roku Mobile App, and more rolling out this spring. Roku’s Live TV experience boasts 350-plus free linear TV streaming channels across a variety of genres.

With the launch of Local News, users can now stream channels from significant American cities or watch live news channels that are personalized for their area. News recommendations are now powered by AI, making them smarter than ever and ensuring a curated experience within the Live TV Zone. Users of Roku can use Roku Search, Roku Voice, or the Live TV Zone on their Roku Home Screen Navigation to conduct a “local news” search. Premium Subscriptions, the newest category added to Roku’s Live TV Channel Guide, enables users to quickly find and subscribe to premium channels they are not already a member of, extending their Live TV content offering.

Golf and extra soccer programming, including game coverage in Spanish for some soccer leagues, will be added to the all-new Sports experience’s coverage. Additionally, users will soon enjoy a more tailored Sports experience based on their location, preferred team, preferred activity, and viewing preferences.

Located within What to Watch, Continue Watching offers users a single location to jump back into the content they enjoy. After a user finishes streaming their preferred TV program or movie, content from supported channels will now appear almost immediately in the Continue Watching row. BET+, Freevee, and STARZ will soon debut, and discovery+ and Prime Video will also be added to the list of supported channels for the Continue Watching feature.

The updated Roku Mobile App will have a more refined, elevated, and visually immersive interface, making it the go-to destination for all your account and streaming needs. In the coming months, users will see a revamped Account Hub, a more streamlined Home Screen, a Live TV Channel “Guide” button, and enhanced Roku Photo Streams.

Meanwhile, Roku Select and Plus Series TVs are now exclusively available from Best Buy stores and The new Roku Wireless Soundbar, which offers a seamless wireless complement to Roku Select and Plus TVs, will be solely available at Best Buy stores and online later this month.

The TVs in the Roku Plus Series offer picture clarity, lightning-fast performance, and a plethora of upgraded features like automatic brightness, wireless sound expandability, Bluetooth Private Listening, Roku’s Voice Remote Pro, and more. Roku Plus Series TVs are designed to offer a streaming experience right out of the box when combined with the industry-leading streaming platform from Roku.

“Our goal is to make everything about a smart TV delightfully simple, from finding the TV that’s perfect for you, to opening and unboxing, to enjoying your favorite movies and TV shows,” Roku devices president Mustafa Ozgen said. “We made purposeful decisions to ensure that our Roku Select and Plus Series TVs embody what users love most about the Roku streaming experience, and we brought in our expertise in picture quality and audio to give consumers an entertainment upgrade at an incredible value.”

The announcements come as Roku intends to keep concentrating on enhancing its content offerings to increase engagement, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said on Monday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco. The change is intended to encourage users to use the platform more frequently, making it a more integral part of their daily existence as opposed to a service they can leave more easily. All of this shows just how far the company has come since starting with a back catalog of movies and TV shows.

“We promoted it in the [user interface], and it’s free and it’s a great value, and our cord-cutters love stuff that’s free. So that’s the virtuous cycle. It’s just made it bigger and bigger and bigger,” Wood said. “And now we’re at the point where we license content … We have an output deal for movies with Lionsgate, and we produce our own originals now. So it’s a whole range.”

Roku Channel

The Roku Channel is a free live TV streaming service that provides 450+ live linear streaming channels and more than 80,000 free movies and TV shows. The library contains entertainment from several different decades, including some major hits.

The service also made a splash with the acquisition of the Quibi library, now presented as Roku Originals. More original content is set to follow.

Users can add premium subscriptions to services like Paramount+, Showtime, STARZ, discovery+, and AMC+ that can be accessed within the Roku Channel ecosystem.


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