Roku streamlines fragmented sports viewing with aggregated user experience

As the battle for sports rights have heated up in recent years, so too has the struggle for fans to figure out where exactly to find specific games as different events and leagues have been scooped up or air across an increasing variety of platforms.

Roku is now aiming to make that process simpler for viewers with the rollout of a centralized aggregated sports-focused experience. Launched with several supported platform partners, the new sports experience helps users find and watch where their favorite league, sports and teams are playing – without the need to browse through multiple apps.

The new Sports category is located on the Roku home screen and comes with a bevy of new features. That includes two rows split between showing live and upcoming games, alongside the option to navigate rows based on a league (for an initial roster of leagues and conferences, see below) or by specific sports in dedicated Zones.

Users can click on a tile for a game they want to watch and Roku will surface options for where it’s available to view from supported channels. In addition to live and upcoming games and events, the sports experience also surfaces related content specific to leagues or that’s freely available.

Roku sports experience

While streaming is a key focus, Roku’s aggregating viewing options across a variety of partners that span streaming services, satellite, over-the-air, and cable channels. As a Fierce Video article pointed out in September this year, fall kicked off a confusing world of sports streaming (where for the NFL for example, fans might need to switch between Prime Video, CBS, Fox, Paramount+, NBC, Peacock, or ESPN/ESPN+ to catch games available different nights of the week). Or Major League Baseball, which reached a deal with Apple TV+ for Friday evening games, but viewers need to turn Peacock for select Sunday morning games under a multi-year deal, with certain 2022 season games also available on YouTube.

At launch the Roku Sports experience is supported by Apple TV, DirecTV, Fox Sports, FuboTV, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video, Sling, The Roku Channel, TNT, TBS, and truTV, with more viewing options expected in the coming months. If the game viewers want to watch is on a paid service, they’ll need to subscribe to that service to watch the game. Users will also be able to find free sports through The Roku Channel, along with content such as sports documentaries and movies.

“We know that keeping track of where sports are being streamed has only become more fragmented over the past few years,” said Alex Hill, director of Live & Sports at Roku, in a statement. “Watching your favorite teams should be simple, so we’ve made it a priority to build out a more seamless and streamlined way to discover and watch sports on our platform. Sports are a vital part of the streaming experience, and we will continue to make enhancements to that experience, like adding more supported providers and finding new ways for our users to follow their favorite teams.”

Roku’s initial roster of leagues fans can find is also expansive, including NFL, College Football, NBA, Men’s College Basketball, Women’s College Basketball, NHL, MLB, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Major League Soccer, Champions League, Europa League, English Premier League, La Liga, Series A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and Liga MX, with more expected to be added shortly.

There are also Zones, where users can find content based on specific sports. Some of these include:

Pro Football Zone
College Football
Pro Basketball
College Basketball

The streaming platform has snagged GNC as the exclusive sponsor of the new College Sports Zone for November.

 “We’re excited to partner with Roku this fall,” said Lauren Mannetti, VP of Marketing at GNC, in a statement. “Our consumers and associates live active, healthy lifestyles and many are current or former athletes. This partnership will help us to further our reach and engage audiences that are already on their journey to Live Well.”

And Roku said it’s giving consumers what they want, citing recent survey data that found 61% of sports fan respondents said they want a centralized location where they can view sports, while 63% like features that let them browse by their favorite teams and leagues.

Along with the home page, Roku is also integrating sports with other platform functionalities, providing the ability to search for “sports” or related words such as by team name or by using Roku Voice.