Roku’s Rough Week

In an era of fake news allegations, manipulation of the media for market purposes can be just as insidious.

Take Roku, the streaming media device manufacturer and platform that invented the subscription video-on-demand market ecosystem with Netflix more than 11 years ago.

Last week after Comcast announced it would begin rolling out a free streaming media device to promote its Xfinity Plex over-the-top video platform, shares of Roku began to decline — ending last week down about 30% and the worst stock performance for the company since it went public in 2017.

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Of course, Wall Street always waxes extreme at the slightest wind change. Research firms notes now disseminated over the Internet with maximum ease — and effect.

But CNBC and CBC.com went further, speculating Roku shares could plummet this week.

“Roku shares could fall another 30% before finding a bottom, chart suggests” screamed the Sept. 23 Hearst-like headline.

Buried at the bottom of the story: “Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBC Universal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.”

The internal rationale suggests that the more Roku suffers, the better possible scenarios play out for Comcast and its budding Xfinity OTT plans.

After years of eschewing streaming video for its traditional pay-TV business model, Comcast has recognized that the streaming video ecosytem cannot be stopped.

That reality prompted Comcast Cable a few years ago to embrace direct access for its Xfinity subscribers to Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and most recently: ad-supported Tubi TV.

Roku, in addition to manufacturing Chinese-made streaming devices — including Comcast-owned Now TV devices in the United Kingdom — operates its own AVOD service, The Roku Channel — a direct competitor to Plex and the pending Peacock streaming video platform.

“It could get even worse [for Roku],” Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray, told CNBC.

To its credit, CNBC cited separate market analysis from Quint Tatro, founder of Joule Financial, who said Roku would bounce back.

Indeed, Roku last week rushed out a series of press releases touting revamped streaming devices.

“I’m a Roku user,” Tatro told CNBC. “I own six of them in our home and office. I have not had cable for years so I would not switch to a cable device.”

 

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