Local news comes to The Roku Channel from NBCUniversal

The Roku Channel has added a new content category to its streaming lineup, now bringing live local news to viewers through a partnership with NBCUniversal Local.

The Roku Channel already has a slate of national news options, including NBC News Now, but the latest addition marks a first for the platform in offering local news programming. Roku Channel users can access the linear NBC station channels through the platform’s Live TV Guide, initially starting in eight cities.

Local news, breaking updates, weather forecasts and live events from each area will be available on the NBC channels, which include the following cities:

  • NBC New York News 
  • NBC Los Angeles News 
  • NBC Chicago News 
  • NBC Philadelphia News 
  • NBC Dallas Ft. Worth News 
  • NBC Washington D.C. News 
  • NBC Connecticut News 
  • NBC South Florida News

Roku said additional NBC local news channels will come to the free ad-supported streaming aggregator in the coming months. NBCU’s local media division delivers content to English and Spanish-speakers in 31 U.S. markets and Puerto Rico. The NBC Owned Television Stations group includes 12 NBC TV stations and a regional news network.

The move to include local news in the channel lineup is, in part, a direct result of Roku users’ feedback, according to Ashley Hovey, head of The Roku Channel AVOD. In a statement Hovey added that “local news has consistently been one of the top requested categories by our users.”

“We’re excited to work with NBCUniversal Local and the NBC Stations to expand our relevant live TV offering for streamers and to bring news from multiple major cities to millions of viewers across the country to easily access and enjoy,” Hovey continued.

The deal with NBCU could fill a content gap for streamers looking for local programming options. An April survey from TiVo indicated that a lack of local content and sports content on streaming drove some cord-cutters back to traditional cable packages.

According to the report, 84% of those surveyed said they wanted access to local programming and sports but struggled to find it offered on streaming services compared to cable or satellite. And 28% of people who switched back to cable or satellite from streaming said it was the best way to access local TV content.

The TiVo report cited the most popular services offering some live local and sports channels similar to cable and satellite were Disney’s Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Stream, Dish’s Sling TV, Alphabet’s YouTube TV and sports-centric FuboTV.

However, in major markets like New York City, Los Angles and San Francisco, local affiliates of smaller networks and independent stations that create the most local news content aren’t carried on any of the top five streaming pay TV providers cited by the TiVo study.

Other streaming have been adding local news feeds, such as Amazon Fire TV, which last year expanded its live and on-demand local news app to cover 158 major cities across the U.S. Local Now, meanwhile, is an Allen Media Group-owned AVOD service that positions itself as the go-to free local streaming service, providing localized content to over 225 markets in the U.S.

As for Roku, the company has been expanding its content offerings on The Roku Channel, including this month’s launch of a dedicated Spanish language hub called Espacio Latino that’s geared toward U.S. Hispanic audiences. That offering added a roster of new content partners such as NBCUniversal Telemundo, Hemisphere Media Group and others. Roku said the introduction was meant to help address a strong appetite for Spanish language content on the platform.

The Roku Channel’s Live TV guide offers more than 300 linear channels spanning news, sports, music, and entertainment. The Roku Channel was the number one FAST service by active account reach on the platform in the first quarter of 2022 in U.S.