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BY ALEX WEPRIN | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren

‘Roku Recommends’ will be a weekly show, co-hosted by former ‘Extra’ host Maria Menounos and ex-NFL player and TV host Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins.

Roku wants to recommend your next binge-watch, and it is launching a weekly show to help do so.

The streaming platform is launching Roku Recommends on Thursday, a 15-minute weekly program co-hosted by former Extra host Maria Menounos and former NFL player-turned-TV host Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins. New episodes will debut Thursdays on The Roku Channel.

The show will use “exclusive Roku data to highlight best bets and hidden gems across the Roku platform to help streamers discover what to watch,” according to the company. That means that every week the show will recommend programming on Netflix, Disney+, Roku Channel and elsewhere to viewers.

“When I turn on my Roku and decide what to watch, I am often paralyzed by this paradox of choice,” said Roku Brand Studio head Chris Bruss, in an interview, adding that the hope is the show will help guide Roku users to programming they may have otherwise missed or overlooked.

Roku Recommends is the first original program to be developed by the Roku Brand Studio, which the company launched earlier this year to create original programming with marketers in mind. To that end, Roku Recommends is launching with Walmart as its premier launch sponsor, with other advertisers on board as well.

“One of the things that I have heard so much over the years is that the biggest challenge that an advertiser has as television viewing is so rapidly moving to streaming, is that they can’t reach audiences who go directly into SVOD channels,” Bruss says. “You might have a brand with a great message to share with an audience, but if they go straight into Netflix or Disney+, you just don’t have an opportunity to get in front of those people.”

Roku Recommends will include sponsored segments (think Walmart branding attached to a kid-safe viewing recommendation), but also custom integrations, which Bruss says is “almost like a podcast live read,” with Menounos and Hawkins talking about a brand to viewers.

Roku launched its brand studio in March after bringing on Funny or Die’s entire branded content team (the rest of Funny or Die was subsequently sold). Funny or Die is also producing the program.

Roku has also been leaning heavily into original and exclusive programming in recent months, touting the original programming pipeline from its branded content studio, but also Roku Originals (previously Quibi originals), This Old House, and a first-window film slate from Saban Films.


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