Roku’s free update that makes it easier to find new shows and movies is coming to more countries

Roku TV on wall with What to watch menu on screen
(Image credit: Roku)

Roku has announced that a new software update, including a What to Watch feature, is coming to compatible streaming players and TVs in the coming weeks and months, respectively.

The update, which is already available in the US, aims to make it simpler and cleaner for Roku users to browse and discover new things to watch, using three new options under the "What to Watch" heading; What to Watch, Continue Watching and Save List.

Coming to Roku streaming devices, such as the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and compatible Roku TVs from brands including Sharp, JVC, TCL and more, Roku’s Sally Nelson, director or UK product growth says "By personalizing 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". 

But how does What to Watch work? By using a viewer’s viewing data on a Roku device, What to Watch can tailor recommendations to the user based on their viewing habits, whether that be genre type, streaming service and so on. So for example, if you watch a few Nordic crime dramas on Netflix, What to Watch will recommend other Nordic crime dramas on Netflix.

Compared to other recommendations made by other TV smart platforms on the best TVs – such as webOS, Tizen, Fire TV and Google TV – the Roku update will tailor the recommendations further by only suggesting TV shows and movies on platforms you’re subscribed to. So, if you don’t have Prime Video for example, Roku What to Watch won’t recommend anything from Prime Video. It's kind of an indictment of smart TV software that this sounds like a breath of fresh air.

Roku TV on white background with What to Watch menu on screen

Roku's What to Watch menu (pictured) aims to tailor recommendations to the viewer. (Image credit: Roku)

What to Watch not only makes recommendations via streaming service but also by genre. If it sees that you’re watching TV shows based around finance, you’ll get a row of recommended TV shows and movies under a banner heading called "Business and Finance", but this is just one (slightly boring) example.

The other features, Continue Watching and Save List, aim to centralize all the TV shows and movies users have either started watching or tagged to watch later into one location, meaning users can quickly jump in and out of the programs they want to watch rather than having to navigate different apps every time.

Here for the simplicity 

Roku has always aimed to make the user experience as simple and easy-to-navigate as possible, with recent updates including a bigger and better smart TV menu. One of the negatives we’ve found in the past when looking at some of the best smart TV platforms is that there can often feel like too many recommendations, and they can feel a bit random.

If Roku is aiming to eliminate this problem and tailor the user experience for a more streamlined and personalized approach, then we’re all for it. With thousands of movies and TV shows across hundreds of streaming services and channels, choosing what to watch can be daunting, so any help is appreciated. Will the What to Watch feature be a success in practice? Only time will tell, but we look forward to finding out.

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James Davidson
TV Hardware Staff Writer, Home Entertainment

 James is the TV Hardware Staff Writer at TechRadar. Before joining the team, he worked at a major UK based AV retailer selling TV and audio equipment, where he was either telling customers the difference between OLED and QLED or being wowed by watching a PS5 run on the LG 65G2. When not writing about the latest TV tech, James can be found gaming, reading, watching rugby or coming up with another idea for a novel.