More NBCUniversal FAST content joins The Roku Channel

Roku’s free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service is getting more content from the NBCUniversal library.

Four of the channels joining The Roku Channel are focused on single-series IP, including “Murder, She Wrote,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Bad Girls Club,” and “Saved By the Bell.”

Additional channels are Universal Crime, which features library series focused on mystery, suspense and drama with shows like “Columbo,” “Kojack,” and “The Rockford Files.” Teen NBC, covering old-school series like “Punky Brewster,” “Major Dad,” and “Hang Time,” is also joining the platform.

And later this year two more channels will debut with Universal Action and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. “

The Roku Channel is thrilled to announce its expanded relationship with longtime partner NBCUniversal,” said Jennifer Vaux, VP of Content Acquisition & Programming for The Roku Channel, in a statement. “As FAST continues to gain incredible popularity in the marketplace, we’re excited to bring such terrific content options – including a strong roster of very well-known, fan-favorite programming – to our viewers.”

The latest expands on NBCU and Roku’s FAST relationship, which already brought content such as NBC News Now, Dateline 24/7, NBC local channels, Telemundo regional news channels, Sky News International and The Rotten Tomatoes Channel.

In Q4 2022 The Roku Channel reached U.S. households with an estimated 100 million people. And usage on the FAST platform surpassed the 1% threshold of total TV viewing time in May to land a spot on Nielsen’s The Gauge. That trend continued into July when The Roku Channel again captured a 1.1% share of TV viewing, per the latest Gauge monthly snapshot.

Earlier this year Roku inked a licensing deal with Warner Bros. Discovery that brought linear WBD-branded FAST channels and 225 AVOD titles totaling more than 2,000 hours of on-demand content to the platform.

As for NBCU, it’s one of the media companies moving into the FAST space to monetize content libraries. Per One Touch Intelligence, NBCUniversal ranks third among the top 10 producers of distinct FAST channels, behind Paramount Global and E.W. Scripps. In June NBCU disclosed it would launch nearly 50 FAST channels Amazon’s Freevee and Xumo Play.

In a statement, Bruce Casino, EVP of Sales & Distribution U.S. for NBCU Global Distribution, highlighted its catalog of classic series and moving further into the FAST space.

“We are excited to expand upon our longstanding relationship with The Roku Channel and dive into the dramatically growing FAST sector by partnering with them to bring our beloved TV shows to their viewers,” Casino stated.

In a recent column for StreamTV Insider, One Touch Intelligence analyst Michael Grebb pointed to the continued growth of FASTs.

“Despite a sometimes-choppy consumer experience, FAST remains a persistently vibrant media sector as consumers seek out free alternatives as inflation squeezes their pocketbooks,” wrote Grebb, adding that FAST growth continues even with new ad-supported plans proliferating the market, including Netflix, Disney+, BET+ and later this year AMC+.

Still, he cautioned against potential future risks, but noted studios near-term could still be keen to tap FASTs as they look to generate additional revenue. 

“Will fractured audiences and more AVOD competition drive FAST CPMs so low that media companies start losing interest?” Grebb questioned. “Perhaps someday, but the supplemental revenue that studios and streamers can still make on FAST represents an alluring and steady temptation. At least for now.”