CEO Anthony Wood: Original Content, Lionsgate Movies Help Drive Roku Channel Engagement

Nearly a year ago Roku inked a multiyear Pay 1 distribution deal with Lionsgate for the studio’s theatrical releases streaming on the Roku Channel. Fast-forward to the present and that agreement, together with original produced content, drove platform user engagement up 85% in the most-recent fiscal period for the free ad-supported VOD service. Platform revenue in 2022 increased 20% ($446.5 million) to $2.7 billion largely due to advertising.

Speaking March 6 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Roku founder/CEO Anthony Wood said the Roku Channel has evolved from streaming older catalog content to current box office releases and its first original movie Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, starring Daniel Radcliffe as the eccentric comedian, in addition to shows such as “The Great American Baking Show,” “Martha Gardens” and “Emeril Tailgates,” among others.

It also offers “MovieSphere by Lionsgate” a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel featuring catalog movies such as The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech and La La Land, and series from every genre and decade.

Pending Lionsgate theatrical releases earmarked for The Roku Channel (after box office and retail) include Expendables 4; Eli Roth’s Borderlands; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret from director James L. Brooks; White Bird: A Wonder Story, with Helen Mirren and Gillian Anderson; and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent headlined by Nicolas Cage.

“It’s not only a great way for us to sell ads, but it’s also a reason people buy Roku devices because they get the Roku Channel,” Wood said.

Roku, which broke its teeth connecting the television to the internet through a branded Netflix player streaming device in 2008, now has more than 70 million active accounts accessing third-party streaming services via the Roku platform, which includes the Roku Channel.

Roku now divides advertising revenue two ways: Display ads on the platform that include selling the entire Roku home page to Disney+ for the debut of a new season of “The Mandalorian,” and ads inserted in AVOD content, according to Wood.

“It’s kind of delightful to turn on your TV and see a ‘Mandalorian’-themed background for a couple of days,” Wood said. “Disney likes it because 70 million households turn on their TV and see [the show].”

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