Roku updates software with focus on content discovery

Roku’s operating system on a smart TV. (Graphic by The Desk)

Roku is rolling out an updated version of its smart TV operating system that aims to take the guesswork out of finding TV shows and movies across different apps and services.

The update, Roku OS 11.5, will include a new feature called The Buzz that will curate content from a handful of supported apps, including AMC Plus, Apple TV Plus, Showtime, Starz and Tubi, with support for more apps to come in the future.

Through The Buzz, streamers will be able to watch trailers, interviews and extras for TV shows and movies available on supported apps.  Streamers can then watch the show or movie by pressing a button within The Buzz.

“We are in the golden age of streaming with more great shows and movies releasing than ever before, which at times we know can be overwhelming,” Preston Smalley, an executive in charge of Roku’s product line, said in a statement on Monday. “By personalizing the way our customers connect with the content they love and offering more ways to discover and access new content to stream or save for later, our users have more tools than ever to watch what they want to with ease.”

Along with The Buzz, Roku is also launching a new “save list” feature where streamers can bookmark movies and TV shows, as well as a “continue watching” feature that will let streamers pick up where they left off in a TV episode or film.

Changes are also coming to The Roku Channel, the company’s native streaming marketplace and free, ad-supported streaming service. On the marketplace, users will now be able to add services to a favorites list and sort through services by category. The ad-supported streaming service within the Roku Channel will also allow customers to sort through the hundreds of free linear channels by category, including news, sports, entertainment, kids programming, music and Spanish-language streams.

The updated operating system is rolling out to supported Roku devices within the next few months, the company said.

Roku offers a budget line of streaming TV devices and sticks that start at $30, though the gadgets frequently go on sale. Roku devices are available to buy through the company’s own website, on Amazon and at Best Buy and Walmart.

Several smart TV makers also partner with Roku to offer the company’s operating system built into their electronics. Companies that make Roku smart TVs include TCL, Hisense, Element and Walmart’s in-house electronics brand Onn.

Roku devices offer access to many popular free and subscription-based streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN Plus, Peacock, HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, Epix, Paramount Plus, YouTube TV, Sling TV and Philo, among others.