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Roku bows kids and family channel

Hitting the market with more than 7,000 ad-supported titles, Roku's Rob Holmes hopes the new section will help it compete against Netflix and Amazon.
August 19, 2019

OTT platform The Roku Channel is launching a kids and family section on its devices with more than 7,000 free, ad-supported movies, TV episodes and digital content. Bowing today in the US, the segment for preschoolers to 13-year-olds is populated with content from more than 20 partners, including DHX Media, Happy Kids TV, Lionsgate, Mattel, Moonbug, Allspark (formerly Hasbro Studios) and Pocket.watch.

The Roku Channel is Roku’s free OTT streaming channel that delivers ad-supported TV, movies, sports, and news to anyone with an account. It is available on Roku devices, via its website and on select smart TVs.

The new kids and family vertical features 24/7 live and linear streams of kids channels available from previous partners Amoeba, BatteryPop and KidGenius. The channel will also have password-protected parental control features so adults can limit what kids can watch. Roku’s in-house editorial team curated the content on the service, which includes popular licensed IPs such as Care Bears, The Cat in the Hat, Little Baby Bum, My Little PonyRev & Roll, Super Mario Brothers and Thomas & Friends.

Working solely as an aggregator now, if the channel attracts a lot of viewers and helps build Roku’s user base, then the company plans to grow it with more licensed and commissioned content, says Roku’s VP of programming, Rob Holmes

To aggregate users’ viewing experiences, paid subscribers to services, such as Hopster, Noggin or ZooMoo, will be able to view those platforms directly through the kids and family zone at no extra cost. Free users still need to pay to access premium content.

For creators, the new kids and family area offers them the chance to leverage The Roku Channel’s large user base with around 60% less of the advertising time of traditional linear television, says Holmes. Meanwhile, The LEGO Group has signed on as the channel’s first advertising sponsor. The channel is also COPPA compliant, and does not ask for or save any data from kids.

Roku sees the new section as a way to meet a demand other OTT platforms like Amazon and Netflix have been capitalizing on, says Holmes.

“We’ll have done our jobs if parents think this a great addition to what Roku offers,” says Holmes. “This is an opportunity for partners to connect with large audiences and we’d be very glad to have kids content creators come and be part of this experience.”

Roku also wants to use the channel to build on its continuing financial success, says Holmes. After launching only two years ago, The Roku Channel has grown to more than 30 million active accounts, having gained more than one million active since the last quarter, according to the company’s Q2 financial reports. Its platform business has also been a big success driver and Roku reported a gross profit of US$114.2 million, up 47% from the year before.

About The Author
Online writer for Kidscreen. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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