Earlier this month Roku rolled out a host of new features targeting Roku TV owners. While some features, like the ability to make a list of your favorite channels when you have a broadcast antenna or the addition of thumbnail images when using the Live TV Pause feature, are fairly par for the course one new feature stands out in a rather creepy way—More Ways To Watch.
More Ways To Watch is the most interesting new feature in this latest Roku update. More Ways To Watch offers viewing suggestions based on what a customer is watching on the screen at that moment. This means that if a customer chooses to opt into the feature, Roku will always know exactly what it is that they are watching. Roku will only be able to “watch” the content on your screen if it’s connected via an input, like a set-top box or digital antenna.
The More Ways To Watch feature utilizes automatic content recognition (ACR) technology to provide users with targeted suggestions. Roku has come out and admitted that they will be saving the data gathered with the ACR tech, but refused to answer TechCrunch’s specific questions about what they plan on doing with that data. It’s a safe bet that Roku will consider selling that data to third-parties down the line.
The suggestions appear as a pop-up on the bottom of your screen by default. However, if a customer would rather not have those interrupt their viewing experience, it is possible to set the feature so that it only offers suggestions when a certain button on the remote control is pressed.
While the More Ways To Watch feature does have a slight “big brother” feel about it, the addition of more personalized content suggestions is not a necessarily a bad thing. The trick for Roku will be how they frame this feature and address the obvious privacy concerns that come along with it. Giving users the ability to opt out of the feature is a huge step in the right direction. If you are worried about your privacy, don’t opt into the feature. However, if you’re having trouble figuring out what show to watch while you wait for the new season of Westworld, you may want to opt in and see what Roku has to say.