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Roku Reveals Most Popular Content on Its Set-Top Box

Set-top box maker Roku continues to expand its selection of channels, with a total now topping 1,500. Given all that content, Roku analyzed customer data to determine what terms people were searching for when they sat down to stream TV shows or movies. The results are generally not shocking, but provide some key insights to Roku's most prominent audience demographics.

"Downton Abbey" took the top spot for most-searched TV series, edging out the hit cable drama "Breaking Bad." Long-running cartoon "SpongeBob Squarepants" took third place, followed by "The Walking Dead" and "The Big Bang Theory." The TV category suggests that many Roku owners put on shows for children, but otherwise use the system for themselves.

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"Pitch Perfect," of all things, led the movie category (we had to look it up as well; it's a college comedy about two rival a cappella groups). Animated comedies "Despicable Me" and "Despicable Me 2" took the second and third spots, followed by "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Star Trek Into Darkness." Aside from revealing users' questionable taste in comedies, these results give further evidence that Roku is a popular way to entertain kids.

The top actors in Roku searches arguably show better taste: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Sandra Bullock, Jason Statham and Tom Selleck, in that order. Curiously, while all five actors are best known for their action roles, the TV and movie search results skew decidedly toward dramas, and star none of these actors.

One interesting feature of Roku's search functionality is that it aggregates content from multiple channels and allows users to search content from all channels simultaneously. The availability of this feature varies on other streaming devices: The Fire TV and Wii U offer it, for example, whereas the Chromecast and Apple TV do not.

Roku's selection of 1,500 channels compares favorably to the device's nearest competitors. The Chromecast, Fire TV and Apple TV have a few dozen each. That said, the vast majority of Roku channels are incredibly niche; only about 130 of them stream TV or movies.

Up until now, only Roku owners with remote controls could access the Roku Search feature. However, a new software update rolling out over the next week will add this feature to Roku's iOS and Android apps as well.

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Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is an editor for Tom's Guide, covering gaming hardware, security and streaming video. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.