If there's one thing streaming video watchers love, it's free stuff. So it wasn't a huge surprise to see Roku launch a free ad-supported movie channel of its own last year. Now, it's adding news coverage to that selection, starting with ABC News Live, a 24/7 online offering and an offering that can compete with CBS' own online-only news channel. And on top of that, there will also be live streams from Cheddar, People TV and Newsy. Sure, it may seem like what's old is new again, but it's a smart move for Roku, since it makes its streaming platform much more useful for consumers. And more importantly, it gives them one more reason to stick around.
With ABC News Live, the network hopes to provide continuous coverage of breaking news from all over the world. There will be on-air talent, of course, but it'll also incorporate footage from its shows, like a relevant Good Morning America segment. You'll be able to watch the channel on ABC's website and mobile apps, but Roku's platform will be its exclusive home on streaming devices. Roku is planning to deliver the live news channels through a phased roll out in May.
"Our ambition is not to recast cable, but to reinvent what a 24/7 news channel can look like today," said Colby Smith, ABC News' VP of digital, in an interview with Engadget. Naturally, the network hopes to entice younger viewers who are probably more used to streaming video than cable. While the content didn't look much different than standard cable news coverage, based on our demo, that's exactly the point. Now, Roku customers won't need a subscription to the likes of Sling TV to enjoy a steady flow of news.