Tubi Expands Ad Sales Team

Ad-supported VOD service Tubi May 21  named former senior Viacom advertising executive Peter Graseck as VP of East Coast advertising sales. Graseck will lead the New York ad team and work alongside fellow VPs Heather Strofs, West Coast region, and Todd Segall, Midwest region.

The three report to chief revenue officer Mark Rotblat.

“Peter, Heather, and Todd are all talented executives with undeniable business acumen and integrity, and we look forward to leveraging their expertise during this pivotal growth period,” Rotblat said in a statement.

From Left: Peter Graseck, Heather Strofs, Todd Segall

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Graseck’s media career spans a wide variety of advertising and marketing functions; agency media planning at Young & Rubicam, marketing and branded entertainment at NBC Universal, and for the past 12 years at Viacom, he has held leadership roles in integrated marketing, client strategy, and both general market sales for Comedy Central, Spike, CMT, and TV Land, and direct response sales. Most recently, Graseck was the SVP of Viacom Partner Solutions where he oversaw all direct response accounts across Viacom’s cable networks and digital platforms.

Strofs came to Tubi with over 15 years of sales and leadership experience across the New York, Chicago, and West Coast Markets. She most recently served as VP, ad sales at The Oprah Winfrey Network where she collaborated with clients to create custom solutions that allowed advertising partners to reach their consumers in a unique and impactful way across linear, digital and social platforms. During her tenure, she brought on launch partners at OWN’s inception and continued to create innovative solutions across the studio, technology, and auto landscapes.

Segall joined Tubi from Roku where he was head of sales for their Central Region based out of Chicago and was responsible for building out their sales team and market presence. Prior to joining Roku, Segall was senior category sales director at AOL where he led the Finance Vertical as well as their mid-market sales team.

 

Roku Selling 1 Million Shares for $80+ Million

Streaming media pioneer Roku May 16 announced it is offering 1 million shares of common stock through Morgan Stanley.

The offering is expected to generate more than $80 million in funds the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company said it would use for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Founder/CEO Anthony Wood May 15 appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer to explaining how Roku — since launching with Netflix in 2008 — has brought streaming video in the living room through a user-friendly interface and low-cost hardware.

Roku CEO Anthony Wood

“Our goal is to build scale of our active accounts by licensing our technology to third-party TV manufacturers and advertising,” Wood said. “We help a lot of new streaming services build audiences for their platforms.”

Indeed, Roku has almost 30 million registered subscribers accessing proprietary and third-party content, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and pending Disney+ and Apple TV+ services.

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“Streaming video is very popular right now,” Wood said. “We had almost 3 million people cut the [pay-TV ] cord last year, more than 1 million in the quarter alone. So there’s a lot of momentum right now.”

Wood was asked if big media companies such as Comcast (parent of “Mad Money” creator NBC Universal), which are launching their own over-the-top video platforms, have become “frenemies” with Roku.

“Media companies are partnering with us, not destroying us,” Wood said. “Back when we launched Roku, it was just Netflix and most media companies were trying to avoid streaming. Now they realize it’s the future and they’re heavily invested.”

He said Comcast advertises on the platform and the Xfinity TV app is on the platform, in addition to NBC content.

“Content is what drives streaming,” Wood said. “We have built a purposeful operating system for the TV. It’s designed for the business model TV.”

Roku CEO: We Are the No. 1 Smart TV Operating System in the U.S.

Roku said 33% of all Internet-connected “smart” televisions sold domestically in the first quarter (ended March 31) featured its branded operating system. That’s up from 25% of all TVs sold in 2018.

“In less than five years, the Roku TV has gone from a disruptive idea to the market leader,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said on the fiscal call. “We have taken the leads from Samsung and are now the number one smart TV OS in the country.”

Anthony Wood

Wood attributed Roku’s transition from streaming media device manufacturer to ad-supported VOD distributor to ongoing consumer moves away from linear TV toward over-the-top video — and the CE industry’s sluggish efforts to develop “homegrown” software OS platforms in televisions.

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“We really think in almost all cases those [OS] solutions are probably uncompetitive and that we will just continue to see gains and share of licensed OS [platforms],” Wood said. “So there is a lot of room to grow. It’s a big opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Roku continues to drive an expanding AVOD market through its branded Roku channel. The AVOD market gained momentum following Viacom’s acquisition of Pluto TV, Comcast’s planned launch of AVOD distribution, Shout! Factory’s Shout TV, Sony Crackle and San Francisco-based Tubi, among others.

“We are excited about the increased investment and focus by major media companies on bringing free content over-the-top,” said Scott Rosenberg, GM, platform business. “When they do this, they ultimately accelerate the consumer move into OTT and expand the economic pie for all of us. We share in their success.”

Indeed, Roku said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million from 20.8 million last year. Consumer streaming hours increased 74% to 8.9 billion hours compared to 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

“The most exciting thing about the Viacom/Pluto tie-up is the fact that Viacom is taking content that was previously only available through pay-TV subscriptions and making it available free through AVOD services,” he said. “That not only will that drive viewing on the platform, I think it will also help accelerate the shift of ad dollars over to streaming.”

Roku Widens Quarterly Revenue, Loss — Despite Strong User Adoption

Streaming media device pioneer Roku May 8 reported consumer streaming hours increased 74% in the first quarter (ended March 31) to 8.9 billion hours, compared with 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million, from 20.8 million a year ago.

“The shift to streaming and away from linear TV and legacy distribution platforms has enormous momentum,” founder and CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “We estimate that in Q1 2019 more than one-in-three smart TVs sold in the U.S. were Roku TVs, making the Roku OS the #1 selling smart TV OS in the U.S.”

Despite the strong user metrics, Roku said its quarterly net loss increased 56% to $10.7 million from a net loss of $6.9 million in the previous-year period. Revenue increased 51% to $206.7 million from $136.6 million in 2018.

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Wall Street shrugged off the loss as it had expected a significantly higher decline as Roku ups content and operating expenses. Analysts also projected revenue of $190 million, which Roku topped by nearly 9%.

Indeed, ad revenue ballooned nearly 80% to $134 million from $74.8 million last year. Roku device sales increased about 18% to $65.4 million from $51.7 million last year.

Amazon, Google Bowing Apps on Competing Streaming Media Devices

In a first, Amazon and Google April 18 announced the two companies will launch the YouTube app on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV-enabled smart TVs, as well as the Prime Video app to Chromecast and separately-enabled devices.

Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku dominate the streaming media device market.

Google Chromecast

Prime Video will also be available across Android TV device partners, and the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will also come to Fire TV later this year. Google owns Android TV.

The YouTube app will be the easiest way for users to watch YouTube content on Fire TV. Users will be able to sign in to their existing YouTube account, access their full library of content, and play videos in 4K HDR on supported devices. In addition, standalone YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will also launch later this year on Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs where available.

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Amazon Fire TV Stick

“Bringing our flagship YouTube experience to Amazon Fire TV gives our users even more ways to watch the videos and creators they love,” Heather Rivera, global head of product partnerships at YouTube, said in a statement.

Chromecast, along with Android TV users, will have access to the Prime Video catalog, including the latest seasons of Amazon Originals “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Hanna,” “Homecoming,” “Bosch,” “Catastrophe” and “The Grand Tour,” along with Amazon Original movies such as Donald Glover’s Guava Island, and Academy Award-nominated films The Big Sick and Cold War. 

With Prime Video users can also rent or purchase titles or choose from more than 150 Prime Video Channels, including Showtime, HBO, CBS All-Access, Cinemax and Lionsgate-owned Starz.

“Whether watching the latest season of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ catching teams go head-to-head on Thursday Night Football or renting a new-release movie, customers will have even more ways to stream what they want, whenever they want, no matter where they are,” said Andrew Bennett, head of worldwide business development for Prime Video.

Roku Enhances User Experience with Software Update

Roku April 9 revealed it is rolling out new software – dubbed OS 9.1 – designed to make user access to video and music content easier.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming media co-pioneer (along with Netflix) search for content genres using text or voice search now features a browsable collection of movies and TV shows. The titles are categorized from free, on-demand, subscription and 4K.

New voice commands include saying “replay” to go back a few seconds, “turn closed captions on/off,” to toggle closed captions, or if you can turn the TV display off while streaming select music channels like Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn by saying phrases like “turn display off.”

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A new “guest” mode (previously known as Auto Sign Out Mode) allows third-party users  to sign in to subscription channels using their own account credentials on your device. You can enable or disable the feature for specific Roku devices from the “my linked devices” section on the “my account” page on Roku.com. You can also sign a guest out of a device if the guest left early or selected the incorrect sign-out date.

In addition to a “my offers” link affording Roku users to special deals and discounts, the software upgrade enables users to bypass re-entering log-in credentials when activating a new Roku device.

“Automatic account link” is available on nearly 10 subscription streaming services including Pandora and Sling TV, with additional services expected to be supported soon.

The software update is available on select Roku streaming players today and is expected to roll out to all supported players in the coming weeks,” Ilya Asnis, SVP Roku OS, wrote in a blog.

Roku TV models are expected to receive the update in early summer.

 

 

The Roku Channel Adds HBO, Cinemax

Roku April 4, announced that HBO and (soon) Cinemax are available as add-on third-party subscriptions on The Roku Channel. HBO joins an array of more than 25 premium subscriptions already available on The Roku Channel.

The Roku Channel provides users access to 10,000+ free, ad-supported movies and TV episodes as well as third-party premium subscriptions. It is a top 5 channel on the Roku platform by active account reach. The channel’s easy-to-navigate, content-first interface, allows users to discover free, ad-supported entertainment as well as premium services in a single destination without having to switch between multiple streaming channels.

“The Roku Channel delivers a single destination to discover great free, ad-supported and premium subscription entertainment,” Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement, said in a statement. “We are expanding premium subscriptions by making HBO more easily available to The Roku Channel’s highly engaged user base.”

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming media device manufacturer’s 27 million users can trial HBO for free for seven days. Following the seven-day trial, subscribers will be charged $14.99 per month.

The Roku Channel offers a single destination for both free (ad-supported) and premium movies and TV shows. Customers can browse all content, even those from premium subscription services, without needing a subscription.

Users ready to subscribe via The Roku Channel can take advantage of “one-click” signup and subscriptions can be managed through the “My Account” section on the website. Premium subscriptions are only viewable within The Roku Channel.

“The Roku Channel users will have a chance to watch the final season of “Game of Thrones” on their favorite platform,” said Jeff Dallesandro, SVP, worldwide digital distribution and new business development, HBO.

 

Roku Shares Dip on News Amazon is Looking to Expand AVOD Service

Shares of streaming media device manufacturer April 3 Roku closed down nearly 3% after a news reports suggested Amazon is looking to expand ad-supported video-on-demand content on its Fire TV media devices.

If true, the news is significant for Roku, which operates The Roku Channel AVOD service – the fifth most-popular app on the Roku platform.

BusinessInsideand Chedder, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Amazon has been seeking bigger advertising commitments from marketers for the expansion.

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Advertisers spent more than $7 billion on digital spots in 2018, according to eMarketer. Fire TV reportedly has 30 million active registered accounts compared to 27 million for Roku.

The reports say Amazon has been asking for ad pricing commitments comparable to what media companies ask for primetime TV upfronts. Marketers reportedly have been reluctant since Amazon has not disclosed the scope of its expanded content offering.

While Amazon wouldn’t comment, the reports say the ecommerce behemoth is offering marketers targeted viewers, in addition to specific sales data and related non-personal information verifiable by Nielsen.

Separately, (Amazon-owned) IMDb’s AVOD service, Freedive, recently upped its offering of catalog movies, including Blade Runnerand Legally Blonde, and TV shows, “Heroes,” and “Fringe,” among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epix Now Streaming Service Available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV Devices

Epix, the pay-TV network owned by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, March 28 announced that its new streaming service, Epix Now, is available as an app on Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV. The SVOD service offers the network’s full library of original programming and movies for $5.99 per month.

“Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing rollout … making our streaming service available to everyone no matter where or how they want to watch TV,” Michael Wright, president of Epix, said in a statement.

Epix Now subs have access to original program such as “Get Shorty,” “Berlin Station,” “Deep State,” “Elvis Goes There” and “Punk,” as well as upcoming premieres of original series “Godfather of Harlem,” starring Forest Whitaker; “Pennyworth, the origin story of Batman’s butler Alfred, from Warner Horizon and DC; “Perpetual Grace, LTD,” from MGM and featuring Sir Ben Kingsley; “Belgravia,”from Julian Fellowes; docu-series “Slow Burn, based on the podcast.

Subscribers will also have access to thousands of hit Hollywood movies and classic film franchises.

Roku and Amazon Fire TV subscribers also have access to all four Epix live channels and a host of new features. Programming in 4K Ultra HD is also available to stream on supported Roku devices and will be coming soon to Amazon Fire TV.

Roku Partners with Adobe for Marketing Access to 27 Million Streaming Viewers

Subscription streaming media co-pioneer Roku is partnering with Adobe offering marketers access to the former’s 27 million subscribers. Roku operates The Roku Channel, one of the largest ad-supported streaming video platforms. The two companies announced the pact March 26 at the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas.

Marketers using Adobe software and analytics can now target their audiences on the Roku platform through targeted ad buying and access to Roku’s ad inventory.

San Francisco-based Adobe says marketers incorporating the Roku platform can better scale their campaigns, manage frequency and more effectively measure success on over-the-top video.

With lines continuing to blur between advertising and marketing technologies, marketers want to understand advertising’s paid media paths and how they drive valuable site paths that use that data to better optimize campaigns.

“This partnership with Roku allows Adobe customers even more effectiveness while running campaigns on a leading TV streaming platform,” Keith Eadie, VP and GM, Adobe Advertising Cloud, said in a statement.

With ongoing consumer shifts toward OTT video, marketers are zeroing in on spots and campaigns relevant way on TV and the end-user, Scott Rosenberg, GM, platform business, Roku.

“This partnership gives Adobe clients a seamless way to activate their data and reach customers who’ve moved their TV viewing to Roku devices,” Rosenberg said.