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Roku is going right after Netflix with this big move

Roku remote with a Netflix button among others in front of a TV.
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Update: Roku recently suffered a serious outage that not only took out its streaming services, it also made streaming devices and Roku TVs practically useless for several hours.

Roku is looking to beat Netflix at its own game. The company's ad-supported streaming service, The Roku Channel, has long relied on licensed content to fill out its library. But they are planning to beef up its original programming in the next two years to bring in more users. 

According to The Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab), The Roku Channel is planning to develop more than 50 original scripted and nonscripted shows. That's on top of the 75 series it acquired from the defunct Quibi last year. 

The slow build-up is similar to the strategy Netflix used when it transitioned from its DVD rentals-by-mail business to streaming in 2007. Netflix first stocked its digital catalog with older movies and shows, then began producing its own originals a few years later. 

The Roku Channel is available to everyone, not just Roku owners, but Roku does make some of the best streaming devices in the market and its OS powers some of the best TVs. The LAT notes that it is the fifth most popular streaming service with an estimated audience of 70 million viewers in the United States.

It offers more than 80,000 on-demand titles and over 200 live channels, which are highlighted in a new Roku feature targeting cord cutters. And as an ad-supported service, it's completely free. Speaking of pricing, Netflix just raised its prices by up to $2 per month.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

In recent years, Roku has been carefully wading into the realm of originals. Buying the Quibi library was the first step, followed by the acquisition of the home improvement staple This Old House and the exclusive licensing of crypto thriller Cypher. The Roku Channel also pulled a Netflix by saving Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist and ordering a holiday special (with future seasons or one-offs a strong possibility).

The slate of new originals in development span genres, from reality competitions to  lifestyle shows to dramas and comedies. Since Roku already has years of data on what their users have been watching, they can more effectively target the kinds of series they make. 

And while their originals to this point have been English-language, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Roku start going after foreign series. Perhaps the next Squid Game will stream on The Roku Channel. Netflix had better watch out.

In other TV news, a new Umbrella Academy season 3 storyboard has fans worried about Allison. Plus, we've got all the details on how to watch the upcoming How I Met Your Father online, as well as a tip that every Fire TV owner needs to improve their home screen.

Kelly Woo
Kelly Woo

Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.