This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed
Samsung is dramatically expanding its free telly offering for Smart TV owners with a set from 2016 onwards. The South Korean company has partnered with Rakuten TV to bring 166 new channels to its Samsung TV Plus.
For those who don’t know, Samsung TV Plus is a free advert-supported video streaming service baked into Samsung Smart TVs. While Samsung has a pretty solid selection of streaming apps, including Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix, and more, supported on their televisions, most of these require a paid subscription each month. If you’ve just emptied your wallet on a shiny new 4K TV or QLED set, that might not be particularly enticing.
The ability to watch films and boxsets for free is a great asset for Samsung TVs. With the latest deal with Rakuten TV sealed, television owners are about to unlock dozens more channels. The 166 new channels will be rolling out to April and May in 16 markets across Europe, including the UK, through Samsung’s TV Plus service.
There are already a number of channels from Rakuten TV available in the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. So, while viewers in UK won’t see as many new arrivals as those in Sweden and the Netherlands, who have never enjoyed any of these channels before and get the full 166.
As part of the new barrage of channels, Rakuten is launching its own themed genres channels, from Rakuten Action, Rakuten Comedy, Drama, Spotlight, Rakuten Documentaries, and Family. There’s also Rakuten Movies and Rakuten Stories – a channel designed to bring Rakuten TV’s original and exclusive content.
Other global channels, such as Africanews, Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Quicktake, and Euronews, are also included in Samsung TV Plus service too.
Of course, if you do want to splash some extra cash, Rakuten TV is only happy to oblige. The company, headquartered in Japan, allows Samsung Smart TV owners to rent some of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, indie films, and more. Rakuten also offers access to Starzplay too, which doesn’t have its own streaming app, but is available via Rakuten, Apple TV and Prime Video.
According to the official announcement, you’ll need a Samsung Smart TV from 2016 onwards to get access to Samsung TV Plus and the new advert-supported channels. You’ll also need to be living in the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, or Switzerland.
The new content drop for Samsung TV Plus is part of a wider push towards free to watch ad-supported channels in response to £10 a month streaming options like Netflix and Disney+. Roku, famed for its easy-to-use set-top boxes, has secured the rights to a number of exclusive shows for its ad-supported Roku Channel, which is available on its own devices (obviously) as well as NOW and Sky Q boxes.
Meanwhile, Plex – originally designed for viewers to bring their own home media to the big screen – also has an advert-supported streaming service now, with movies from big Hollywood studios on the way thanks to a recent deal. Samsung is the most popular telly manufacturer on the planet, so it’s in a pretty good position to compete with these rivals.