Warner Music channels add to Roku's growing FAST library

Roku and Warner Music Group's WMX division have teamed up to launch three new streaming channels on Roku's free, ad-supported television (FAST) platform, The Roku Channel.

The channels — WMX Pop, WMX Rock and WMX Hip Hop — rolled out to Roku users on Monday and curates content across a number of Warner brands, including Uproxx, HipHopDX, Songkick, Cover Nation and others.

In a press release sent to reporters over the weekend, executives said the three channels would be programmed "based on insights around consumer behavior" and will include music videos, concerts and music-based programming.

"We're extremely excited to partner with the Roku Channel to bring our robust music video catalog and original programming to every screen," Ben Blank, the president of media and content at WMX, said in a statement. " The FAST channel space is expanding rapidly, and this move enables us to further reach music fans everywhere they are. The Roku Channel has been an incredible partner, and as the market leader in FAST, their ecosystem provides the perfect environment to launch our channels."

Ashley Hovey, the head of the Roku Channel's ad-supported video-on demand sector, said the FAST channels fit with Roku's programming strategy because music "is a top content category for our users."

"We look forward to helping WMX harness the Roku Channel’s scale to bring audiences their favorite music video programming, exclusive WMX original content from in demand artists and more," Hovey said.

The Roku Channel is available on all modern Roku streaming devices and smart TV sets. It can also be accessed as a free download for Amazon Fire TV devices, and through the Roku app for Apple and Android phones and tablets.

The free content platform has become a core part of Roku's business as it shifts focus away from hardware sales toward other revenue streams, including its flourishing advertisement business. To that end, Roku has been particularly aggressive in onboarding content providers and acquiring TV shows and movies for the Roku Channel.

Over the last few months, Roku has inked deals with Comcast's NBC Universal, the National Hockey League and AMC Networks to onboard general entertainment, news and sports content channels, some of which have been made available through the Roku Channel before being offered anywhere else.

Last year, Roku acquired the short-form content library of now-shuttered streaming service Quibi and quickly incorporated those shows into The Roku Channel. In November, Roku built on its content acquisition momentum when it debuted its first full-length film, "Weird: The Al Yankovich Story." The streamer said it was the most-watched video on its free, ad-supported video platform in the company's history, though it declined to provide specific viewership data.

Roku's platform revenue — which also includes subscriptions to streaming video services sold through The Roku Channel and subscription sales from Roku Pay integrated with some third-party streaming apps — has far eclipsed revenue from its hardware sales, according to its latest quarterly earnings report.

During its third financial quarter, Roku said its platform revenue grew to $670.4 million, an increase of 15% compared to 2021. Gross profit from its platform revenue was $374.2 million.

Hardware sales and other player-based revenue for the same time period was $91 million, a 7% decline compared to the previous year. Profit from hardware sales was $17.5 million, a 20% decrease compared to 2021.

While Roku may not be selling as many players as it once did (and company executives warn this year's holiday season probably won't help move the needle in a meaningful direction), those who have Roku devices are using them more to stream content that helps boost Roku's balance sheet. During its most-recent financial quarter, Roku said more than 65 million active users streamed a collective 21.9 billion hours of content. Both represented meaningful increases compared to the previous year.