Warner Bros. Discovery Inks Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Deals With Roku and Tubi

The deals call for multiple Warner Bros. free ad-supported TV channels

James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood in "Westworld" Season 4 (HBO)

Warner Bros Discovery Inc. has signed deals with Roku Inc. and Tubi to license 2,000 hours of content and launch a series of channels to carry its movies and television shows, the companies said Tuesday.

The pact will see hits like “Westworld” and the reality series “Cake Boss” available for free, part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s efforts to monetize its vast library of movies and television shows.

Roku said in a release that the content comes from HBO, HBO Max, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Television. Both Roku and Tubi, which is owned by Fox Corp., will have the same FAST content, Roku said, but did not provide details.

Tubi said it will launch 11 channels featuring various genres with offerings like “WB Sweet Escapes,” which will feature baking competitions, and others organized by types of programming, such as series, reality shows and family-themed content.

No details on the terms of the agreements were announced.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Discover still plans to launch its own FAST service this year; timing has not yet been announced.

FAST is “one of the most exciting and certainly the fastest growth that I’ve seen out of a vertical it’s happened since I’ve been in the business,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer of Cinedigm entertainment company told TheWrap last year. Some industry observers believe it will outpace cable for viewers soon.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav told investors in November that the company plans to “aggressively” enter the FAST market.

“We have a unique opportunity to increase our addressable market and drive value, and we intend to move quickly,” he said during the quarterly investor call. “Stay tuned.”

But in December, Zaslav also acknowledged troubles in the ad market. “The advertising market right now is very weak,” Zaslav said during a presentation at RBC’s annual technology investor conference. “This is weaker than it was during COVID, and right now there is a pretty big miss of the whole Christmas season.” At that time, however, he also said the would continue to develop its FAST offerings.

“As FAST continues to explode in popularity amongst cord-cutters, we’re seeing content players increasingly shift their focus towards capturing this audience, by bringing some of their best stuff to FAST,” Rob Holmes, vice president, programming for Roku, said in a statement. “The rapid expansion of premium content on FAST is a win for both the viewer and content owner, as well as advertisers looking to reach these audiences through well-known programming.”

Roku said the pacts reflect its focus on content since the arrival of Charlie Collier as president of Roku Media in September. “Under his leadership, we’re continuing to make strategic moves that will grow Roku as a content-focused company,” a spokesperson said in an email.

The deals come as investors await Warner Bros.’ planned relaunch of its streaming services with the combination of discovery+ and HBO Max, expected later this spring. That relaunch is one of a number of cross-platform efforts the company formed via a merger in April is making to monetize its holdings and drive viewership.

Warner Bros. Discovery is already one of the top players in streaming, along with its role as a key content producer. It gained 2.8 million subscribers to its streaming services in the third quarter, bringing its total to nearly 95 million, but nevertheless, lost $1.38 billion on streaming in the first nine months of the year.

The news gave a boost to Roku shares, which added $3, or 5.6%, to $57 in midday trading. Warner Bros. Discovery shares added 7 cents to $14.45. Fox Corp. shares were up 19 cents to $31.60.