If you’re a Roku user, you can access lots of exclusive original content under the banner of Roku Originals. These original shows were launched in May 2021 to celebrate the Roku-created holiday known as National Streaming Day.
While Roku has traditionally been a place to watch content from other services, the launch represented Roku’s first big foray into original shows. But what exactly can you expect from Roku Originals, and how can you watch them?
Roku Originals Rose From the Ashes of Quibi
At launch, there were 20 shows in the Roku Originals roster featuring stars like Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Adam DeVine, and Chrissy Teigen. Shows spanned across several genres, including comedy, reality, and action.
The first batch of Roku Originals is not, despite the name, original. That’s because those shows are leftovers from Quibi, the short-form streaming service that launched in early 2020 and folded just over six months later.
The idea behind Quibi was to sign up A-listers to produce and star in shows in which the episodes were never more than eight minutes in order to appeal to younger people on the go. But the launch came just after the coronavirus pandemic began, with the majority of its target audience stuck at home and not on the go at all.
In January 2021, three months after Quibi shut down, Roku acquired Quibi’s library and announced plans to relaunch the shows. They retired the Quibi name and referred to the shows as Roku Originals.
By the time Roku launched its original content, it had acquired an impressive 75 shows. The company has continued to reliably roll out new content since its launch, completely separate from anything acquired from Quibi.
Who Can Access Roku Originals?
Roku Originals are available to anyone with a Roku account. All of Roku’s original shows are available for free and supported by ads. The Originals are also available on the Roku mobile app.
It’s important to note that you don’t need a Roku streaming device or a Roku TV to take advantage of everything Roku has to offer. All you need to do is head to Roku’s website and create a free account. Then, you can start watching ad-supported Roku Originals and other shows for free.
How to Access Roku Originals
If you’re on a TV, you’ll first need to head to the Roku Channel app. Once the app has loaded, navigate to the side menu and scroll down to the Roku Originals option. This lets you see all of the shows that have either been acquired or created by Roku.
In the Roku app, head to the Roku Channel tab at the bottom. Then, you’ll need to use the search bar to type “Roku Originals.”
If you’re trying to find Roku Originals in a web browser, simply head to The Roku Channel website. Just like in the app, you’ll need to search “Roku Originals.” Or, you can head straight to the Roku Originals page.
What’s the Difference Between Roku Originals and The Roku Channel?
Simply put, Roku Originals are created by or owned by Roku, and you can find all of them on The Roku Channel. However, The Roku Channel is home to much more than Roku Originals, including live TV channels, movies, and TV shows from other networks. Everything is free but ad-supported.
If you don’t know what The Roku Channel is, we’re talking about a downloadable app for a smart TV, just like Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu, though if you have a Roku TV or a Roku streaming device, you’ll find The Roku Channel pre-installed. The Roku Channel is just one of many great free Roku channels you need to try.
Though content is always changing, at the time of writing, The Roku Channel is currently home to popular shows like 2 Broke Girls, Bones, Coach, Quantum Leap, and The Mentalist.
Within The Roku Channel, you also have the option to subscribe to certain services to access premium content, including Paramount+, Showtime, and Starz. If you subscribe to one of these services, you can view content from that service on The Roku Channel.
Roku’s Future Plans For Originals
Roku is believed to have big plans for original content in the future, even beyond the shows that it picked up following the demise of Quibi.
In February 2021, shortly after the announcement of the Quibi purchase, a job listing appeared online for a legal position with Roku, meant to deal with an “expanding slate of original content.” This indicates that Roku, like so many tech companies, is planning a big push into making its own shows, although, at the time of writing, the company hasn’t officially announced such plans.
The New York Times reported in 2022 that Roku Originals was continuing to thrive. The company made a two-hour movie adaptation of NBC’s canceled show called Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, renewed a lot of Quibi content for another season, and even signed deals to create new shows starring Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse, and Jessica Alba.
Then, in a Roku press release, the company announced quite a few projects to bolster its content slate for 2023 and 2024. Projects include Charlie Makes a Record starring Charlie Puth, Side Hustlers featuring Emma Grede and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon, and Celebrity Family Cook Off hosted by Manolo Gonzales Vergara and executive produced by Sofia Vergara.
Roku Originals got its start largely from material left over from the departed Quibi. However, the content has been repackaged in a way that’s likely to put it in front of many more eyeballs than there ever would have been on Quibi.
They are easy to access if you already have a Roku TV or streaming device because they’re integrated into The Roku Channel. Even if you don’t have a Roku TV or streaming device, the content is still easily accessible with a free Roku account.
Because many people already use The Roku Channel as a place to find free content or put all their paid streaming content in one place, people can naturally stumble upon Roku Originals here. It’ll be easy for shows to go viral or become word-of-mouth hits.
Will Roku Originals Be Successful for Roku?
Roku added millions of customers during the pandemic and now appears poised to become a significant player in the world of original content. With many companies raising the price of their streaming services or prohibiting password-sharing, Roku’s laid-back approach to free, ad-supported content is a breath of fresh air.