- Roku sports experience launched last year
- Discoverability is a major challenge for sports streaming
Connected television platform Roku is rolling out new sports-specific features in the US, including personalisation options, that it hopes will strengthen its bid to become a streaming aggregator for the sports industry.
The company launched its new sports experience late last year, creating a centralised hub for live and on-demand sports events from various streaming services.
Initial partners included Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Fox Sports, Paramount+, Peacock and several other multichannel video programming distributor (MPVD) platforms such as FuboTV and Sling, bringing together football, baseball, ice hockey, and soccer content.
This has now been expanded to include golf, more soccer leagues, and Spanish language game coverage, while Roku will tailor the experience based on location, favourite teams, and viewing habits. Newly supported applications include CBS Sports, MLB.TV, the NBA App, and NBC Sports.
Other new features include easier discoverability for premium subscription services, a revamped mobile app interface and a more streamlined home screen.
“As the number one selling [connected TV] OS in three major markets, we understand what people want when it comes to a streaming platform – a simple yet delightful experience that feels personalised to them,” said Preston Smalley, Roku’s vice president of viewer product. “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 favourite entertainment.”
Roku now has more than 70 million active accounts across its connected TV devices and mobile application, with the company set to release its first branded TV sets this month.
Discoverability is one of the biggest challenges facing both the broadcasting and sports industries as they shift from linear distribution to digital platforms.
With rights now spread out across multiple platforms – each with their own interfaces, subscription models, and account systems – there is considerable appetite for one or more aggregators to bring everything together. Major smart TV platform holders like Google and Samsung are an obvious candidate and even ESPN is considering positioning itself as a centralised hub.
But Roku’s reach, platform-agnostic strategy, and free-ad supported television (FAST) ecosystem mean it is confident of fulfilling that role. Support from the major US streaming providers and dedicated features should see it gain traction. The intriguing thing will be to see whether the features are scalable and adaptable enough, and whether Roku has the desire, to expand to other markets.