Upgraded Roku operating system offers connected, data-driven option 'More Ways to Watch'

Roku said its newest operating system offers a variety of new features and functions.

Roku’s new operating system, version 7.6, launched today with more channel-specific and connected options that take advantage of customer data to target the viewer experience.

These options will ultimately help lead viewers from the content they already prefer and consume to related shows, series, news and sports, as well as specialized advertisements.

Roku is using Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) to target ads for the first time, though it has targeted ads previously, CNET reported. Roku’s opt-in “More Ways to Watch” feature tracks viewer trends on cable or satellite boxes or broadcast antennas that are connected to a Roku TV and suggests alternative shows and movies that are tailored specifically to the viewer.

“More Ways to Watch can recognize the show or movie you’re watching on these boxes and antennas using Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology and suggest additional viewing options via streaming to enhance your experience,” wrote Ilya Asnis, senior vice president of Roku OS, in the announcement. “Additional viewing options may include the ability to watch from the beginning, watch more episodes of the same show and/or view suggestions for similar entertainment available to stream.”

The feature can be turned on or off any time using settings controls, but previously collected data is retained.

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Roku, a private company that is not required to report financial results, revealed in February that it brought in $400 million in revenue and that the company’s media and licensing segment exceeded $100 million in revenue in 2016. Roku also reported that the company was on the verge of raising a $200 million round of funding. According to Fortune, the deal values Roku at around $1.5 billion and could raise about $200 million due to secondary sales by existing investors.

The Roku 7.6 OS upgrade includes more than 300 searchable channels—an essential component, especially for younger generations, as consumers continue to vary the ways they demand content, including searching for specific titles and actors or by type of content such as “news” or “comedy.”

The new OS has a few other updated features, including a new look for the Live TV Pause option, where thumbnail images will display on the screen when the user pauses, rewinds or fast-forwards video.

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For those users who are completely done scrolling past a dozen or more channels that they know they don’t care about, Roku has a feature to create lists of favorite channels for an efficiency-optimized browsing option. And for anyone who can’t remember whether it’s Input 1 or Input 2, a new renaming feature allows customers to rename the input icons to read “Cable Box” or “DVD/VCR player” (some people still have those).

Roku’s OS 7.6 rollout to current device models—produced after May 2011—is expected to be complete before June.