Roku doesn’t want you to forget about it for your streaming needs, so it’s been working on sweetening the deal. The company has announced that it recently closed a multi-year agreement with Lionsgate. If you have the Roku Channel, stock up on popcorn and snacks, because the movies are coming to you.
Later this year, Roku will offer free streaming movies from Lionsgate, including the upcoming Nicolas Cage flick, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Other titles include John Wick: Chapter 4, The Expendables 4, Borderlands, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
This is the company’s first theatrical output deal, though it’s not the first for the industry. Other streaming services have adopted this model over the past few years, especially during the height of the pandemic, when movie theaters were shuttered.
The Lionsgate movies won’t come to Roku right as they debut, the way that Dune premiered on HBO Max to paid subscribers the same day as in theaters. Since Lionsgate owns Starz, it will first offer access to movies about 18 months after the theatrical run before debuting to Roku users for free. So, maybe don’t start popping that popcorn just yet.
The idea behind offering these movies is to help morph Roku into a bonafide content platform rather than limiting it as a device for other streaming services. Roku has so much more competition now than it did five years ago. Now it has to compete with Apple TV and its original, Oscar-winning content offerings and Google TV and its subscription-based service, YouTube TV, which Roku had to fight to keep on its platform.
Lionsgate has also had to make some changes after moving its content from Hulu and HBO to its Starz app. Axios reported that the studio has been looking to sell or spin Starz off in some manner, likely to help revive the brand.
Roku has been busy expanding its business to remain a worthy competitor against the current crop of streaming services and devices. It landed an ad-targeting partnership late last year with Nielsen ratings to help increase its revenue streams. It also recently added a Live TV Zone to help folks better discover what’s on without tapping and selecting between individual apps, and it’s pushed through a whole new software update with more user-friendly features.
The promise of free, blockbuster-level movies might be exactly what Roku needs, as it has seen growth with its ad-supported Roku Channel streaming service that offers other free content. The Roku Channel is also where the Lionsgate movies will hit Roku when they’re available. According to details in an investor call, the Roku Channel currently reaches about 80 million people as of the fourth quarter of last year.