Roku unveils biggest upgrade in years as it battles competition from Fire TV and Chromecast

a smart tv running roku software with the new What To Watch feature on the homescreen

Roku is bringing a slew of new features, including a new carousel of personalised recommendations, to Smart TV and Roku streaming dongle owners across the UK in the coming weeks

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 16/12/2023

- 05:30

Updated: 19/12/2023

- 13:01

The next major Roku update wants to help you discover your next boxset-binge

  • Smart TVs and set-top boxes will receive the free update in the coming weeks
  • Roku will suggest new series and films based on several factors
  • It'll bring together episodes you're currently watching on the homescreen

Struggling to decide on a new show to watch? Roku has a solution.

In one of the biggest changes to its software in years, Roku will recommend new TV shows, films and documentaries from across the streaming services on your telly. Roku will surface suggestions from Channel 4, Disney+, ITVX, My5, Netflix, Prime Video, and others.

Dubbed What to Watch, the carousel of recommendations will be picked based on a few factors, including general trends across all UK-based Roku viewers, popularity globally, and your own personal viewing habits across different streamers.

That means you can expect to see seasonal trends – like an influx of Christmas films at this time of year – alongside popular new releases, shows that are dominating conversations around watercoolers in the UK, and films that appeal to your sensibilities.

a smart tv running roku software is pictured on the wall of an office with two chairs and a table in the foreground

Roku manufactures its own Smart TVs as well as set-top boxes and HDMI dongles that bring streaming services, games, and other smart features to any telly. A number of brands, including TCL and Hisense, also offer TVs powered by Roku


The clever feature will be coming in a future software update, which will be coming to all Roku streaming dongles, set-top boxes, and Smart TVs, in the coming weeks.

As it stands, Roku viewers need to launch each app individually, like Disney+ and Netflix, to find suggestions within that app. These are based on content you’ve already viewed in the app, so you won’t find new shows or films on Prime Video based on things you’ve watched on Netflix.

Roku is playing catch-up with some of the biggest rivals with its What to Watch feature. Fire TV, which is owned and operated by Amazon, already uses AI to suggest new shows and films based on your viewing history. Google’s Chromecast offers similar functionality.

However, Roku says its recommendations will only ever push viewers to streaming services that they already pay for. That should avoid the disappointment of seeing a new show that looks like you’re cup of tea ...only to find that you’ll need to cough-up £10 to rent it.

What to Watch isn’t the only new feature coming to Roku. New carousels called “Continue Watching” and “Save Listwill also be added to the homepage of your TV in the coming weeks. The former will bring together series and films that you’re currently watching – unifying them in a single menu, so you can immediately jump back into the next episode or pick-up where you left off.

“Save List” is designed to work like a “To Do” list across streamers, letting you keep track of series, films, and documentaries that you’d like to get around to watching.

“There is so much great TV available across an array of streaming services, and sometimes deciding what to watch can be overwhelming,” said Sally Nelson, Director UK Product Growth. “Roku’s simple and intuitive home screen makes it a smart TV choice for consumers. By personalising the way our customers connect with the content they love and offering more ways to discover new content, our users can access entertainment with ease.”

Smart TVs powered by Roku’s streaming software should get the update in the coming months. There are currently nine brands in the UK that rely on Roku to provide the software for their TVs, including TCL, Sharp, and Polaroid.

You may like