Based on the total number of streaming hours, Roku is the top streaming platform in America right now. For the first quarter of 2018, active accounts are up 47% year-over-year to 20.8 million and streaming hours are up 56% to 5.1 billion. A lot of this is driven by all the free content on the platform, but it can still be a bit of a challenge to find it all. No longer. Because the Roku Channel has now arrived in Canada.

From what I can gather, the Roku Channel was already available to our American neighbors to the south, but now the new channel on the Roku platform is available to Canadians too. It's a free update, so if you've already got a Roku streaming player or a Roku TV, go ahead and give that thing an update to find the Roku Channel in the Roku Channel Store. They say it'll be rolling out in the next few weeks.

As you may already know, Roku devices are arranged as a series of "channels." You've got the YouTube "channel" and the Netflix "channel," for example, and these are displayed on a grid on the Roku home screen. And there are lots and lots of these channels, many of which offer completely free content. But maybe you don't want to flip between all these channels to find something to watch.

With the Roku Channel, which is completely free, you get a curated collection of free TV shows and movies from across these "channels." This is great for when you're not really sure what you're trying to find -- you can use Roku Search for that -- but rather when you're just browsing around. Right now, the curated selection ranges from movies like Bad Boys and Grown Ups to TV shows like 3rd Rock from the Sun and Grounded for Life.

"We always aim to deliver the best entertainment selection and value for our customers," said Roku Vice President of Programming Rob Holmes. "Our users are looking for great free content, and with the launch of The Roku Channel we are making it easy for them to find it."

The Roku Channel is ad-supported, but Roku wants to go about this the right way. Based on a survey they conducted earlier this year, 81% of Canadians feel that traditional TV has too many ads, and 52% would pay more attention to ads if there were fewer of them. To accomplish this, the Roku Channel will have no pre-roll ads; you'll be able to dive straight into the content.

The target is to have 8 minutes of advertising in an hour, which is a third less than a typical ad load in Canada. This will be composed of four ads per pod, and they'll avoid running the same ad again and again (or even from the same advertiser). This speaks a lot to Roku's business model, as CEO Anthony Wood points out that they are indeed in the business of advertising and not in the business of selling hardware.


Roku has negotiated deals with some of its content partners where they can take a portion of the ad inventory and sell it themselves. The Roku Channel is a natural extension of that, all while still providing Roku customers with free streaming TV and movies in a package that's easy to use and packed with "incredible value."

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