TiVo: 30% of Americans Using Smart TVs to Stream Video

In an over-the-top video ecosystem, new data from the latest TiVo Video Trends Report finds that more than 30% of Americans surveyed access streaming video through Internet-connected televisions. That compares with 16.3%, 15.4% and 14.3% for the next three most-popular streaming media devices, including mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, respectively.

The data, which is based on a first-quarter (ended March 31) survey of 4,367 adults in the U.S. and Canada, would appear to slightly undermine Roku’s actual market share considering the streaming media pioneer’s OS software powers most Chinese-made Smart TVs not branded Samsung.

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TiVo said Samsung’s Wizen operating system is found in more than 50% of Smart TVs, followed by Google-owned Android TV (14.1%), Roku (13%) and LG’s WebOS (2%). Mobile devices are primarily powered by Apple iOS and Google Android.

Notably, Peacock, NBCUniversal’s pending streaming service, will be available on Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs when it launches on July 15. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max launched May 27 without distribution on Roku and Fire TV, underscoring the platform’s sluggish launch.

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According to data from Sensor Tower, 87,000 people used the Apple App Store and Google Play to download the HBO Max app on its first day. That was dwarfed by rivals Quibi and Disney+, which generated 380,000 and 4 million mobile downloads, respectively, on their first days of operation.

Roku Not Kicking OANN Off Platform Despite Controversy

Roku says it will not remove conservative TV platform One America News Network (OANN) from its platform despite allegations that the San Diego-based pro-Trump network is peddling dangerous unproven conspiratorial allegations.

“We operate a platform with a wide selection of entertainment and content with diverse points of view. While we do not block or censor content based on viewpoint, we reserve the right to remove a channel that has the potential to cause harm to our platform,” Roku said in a media statement. “We are not removing the channel at this time.”

Roku previously removed third-party content (Alex Jones’ InfoWars, among others) from its platform, citing violation of the company’s content standards. The streaming media pioneer has 40 million subscribers on its platform, which includes ad-supported The Roku Channel.

Specifically, criticism revolves around an OANN story Trump cited on Twitter that claimed 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino shown last week on social media being shoved by Buffalo police at a Black Lives Matter rally is an Antifa agitator. Gugino fell backwards, hitting his head and knocked unconscious with blood seeping out of his ear.

The OANN story claims Gugino approached police looking to engage law enforcement for political gain. Trump has declared Antifa — which often engages in militant opposition to political doctrines it disagrees with — a domestic terrorist organization. Gugino, who remains hospitalized, has no known ties to Antifa or any violent group.

Regardless, Trump June 9 on Twitter alleged Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out their equipment.

“@OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?,” Trump tweeted.

The president’s post drew immediate pushback from media observers and politicians across the aisle. “It’s a serious accusation, which should only be made with facts and evidence, and I haven’t seen any yet,” John Thune (R-SD), the second-leading Republican (after Mitch McConnell) in the U.S. Senate, told reporters.

Roku Partners With Kroger for Shopper Data Program

Roku June 8 announced the launch of a new shopper data program to make online TV advertising more precise and measurable for CPG (consumer packaged goods) marketers. Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, plans to join the program as the launch partner to build first-to-market targeting and attribution tools for streaming TV.

With more than 40 million registered users in the United States and 13.2 billion hours streamed during Q1 2020, streaming video pioneer Roku is looking to expand its media reach into TV advertising. Los Gatos, Calif.-based Roku’s ad-supported branded AVOD channel boasted 56 million viewers in 2019.

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Completion of the integration will give marketers access to Kroger data to measure ad campaign performance across the Roku platform, as well as tools from Roku to measure the effectiveness of linear TV built on what it claims is the largest licensed TV operating system in North America.

With the economy hit hard by shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, CPG marketers are seeking advanced data solutions to make TV advertising more relevant and performance-driven.

Targeted advertising can increase effectiveness and minimize ad waste while achieving the scale CPG marketers require, according to Roku. For instance, Kroger could help marketers segment messages to high-volume category buyers, customers who occasionally buy a category, or those who buy a complementary category.

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The new shopper data program will provide Kroger sales information to help marketers make smarter media buying decisions. Marketers will be able to use the program to activate advertising across hundreds of ad-supported channels on America’s No.1 streaming platform (by hours streamed according to Kantar) and to tie ad exposure directly to in-store and online sales.

Kroger compiles consumer data from 60 million households across nearly 2,800 Kroger stores. With streaming TV (and AVOD) accelerating, Kroger said sought a market leader in OTT to bring accurate identity and viewing data founded in a direct consumer relationship.

“TV streaming brings digital-like precision to the big screen,” Cara Pratt, VP of commercial and product strategy, Kroger precision marketing, said in a statement.

“We believe that all TV ads will be targeted and measurable,” added Alison Levin, VP of ad sales and strategy, Roku. “Our new shopper data program will make it easier and more effective for CPG advertisers to shift spend to streaming and focus on value for every ad dollar spent.”

HBO Max Generates Underwhelming 87,000 First-Day App Downloads

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s high-profile SVOD platform, generated about 87,000 app downloads on portable devices, according to new data from Sensor Tower. While the tally doesn’t include migration of HBO and HBO Now subs to the new platform, it still is significantly below the 300,000 app downloads upstart Quibi generated on its first day April 7.

Distribution is key to over-the-top video penetration, and HBO Max didn’t quite have all its channels lined up when it launched service on May 27. Notably missing: Amazon Prime Channels, Roku and Comcast Xfinity.

Later in the day, Max parent WarnerMedia announced it had come to an agreement with Comcast enabling Xfinity and Flex subs to access Max (separate subscription required). This was a big deal since Comcast Cable has more than 20 million video subs and its own competing Peacock SVOD/AVOD service.

Regardless, Max desperately needs as many distributors as possible to stay competitive in the subscriber numbers game with Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.

“We’re thrilled to cap off the excitement of today’s launch by adding Comcast’s Xfinity to our roster of distributors who are now offering HBO Max to their customers,” Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement. “This deal marks another important step in the distribution of HBO Max and provides millions of Xfinity customers with access to the product.”

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Max still lacks distribution through Amazon Prime Channels and Roku — both traditional must-haves for generating OTT subs if the service is going to reach 50 million subs without cannibalizing existing HBO Now, Go and pay-TV subs. Former HBO CEO Richard Plepler acknowledged Amazon was key to HBO Now generating 50% of its 8 million subs.

An Amazon spokesperson said that AT&T’s decision to bypass Prime Channels hurts HBO subs.

“We believe that if you’re paying for HBO, you’re entitled to the new programming through the method you’re already using. That’s just good customer service and that’s a priority for us,” Amazon said in a statement.

Ultimately, financial and data issues beneficial to all parties drive OTT video distribution deals via third part platforms such as such as Prime Channels, Roku and Apple TV+ Channels.

“Unfortunately we haven’t reached agreement yet with HBO Max,” Roku said in a statement. “While not on our platform [with 40 million subs] today, we look forward to helping Max in the future successfully scale their streaming business.”

Rebecca Heap, SVP of entertainment at Comcast Cable, said Max offers X1 and broadband-only Flex subs added content depth, including live content.

“We look forward to partnering with WarnerMedia to integrate the HBO Max app on our platforms alongside close to 200 other streaming services — all searchable with the award-winning Xfinity Voice Remote,” Heap said in a statement.

Kids YouTube Channel CoComelon Available on Roku Channel

Kids YouTube channel CoComelon is now available on The Roku Channel, Roku and Treasure Studio announced.

The channel offers a selection of children’s songs and videos that help preschoolers learn letters, numbers, animal sounds, colors and more. Available through the Kids & Family experience on The Roku Channel, the launch marks the first time CoComelon programming will be available outside of YouTube.

“At CoComelon, we’re driven by being able to engage families with entertaining and educational content that makes universally relatable preschool moments fun,” Jay Jeon, creator/founder of Treasure Studio, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to launch with Roku today to make our popular programming available to Roku fans everywhere. Roku shares our deep commitment to creating positive content environments for children and brings a unique ability to engage and promote programming to audiences especially within The Roku Channel. This partnership is an important component of our strategy to be everywhere our audience is today.”

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“CoComelon is beloved by tens of millions of children around the world and is a natural fit for our growing selection of content available to the millions of families who are increasingly turning to The Roku Channel every day for both entertainment and educational content,” Rob Holmes, Roku VP of programming and engagement, said in a statement. “CoComelon joins a robust line-up of children’s programming within our Kids & Family experience and we could not be more excited to welcome their incredible streaming content to The Roku Channel.”

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CoComelon videos include “Bath Song,” “Yes, Yes Vegetables,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Wheels on the Bus,” and “Baby Shark Submarine,” which have amassed billions of views.

Kids & Family on The Roku Channel, which launched last fall, offers more than 20,000 TV episodes and movies.

Roku Says Pandemic ‘May Accelerate’ Platform Growth

Nothing like a global pandemic to invigorate business — and costs.

Streaming media device pioneer Roku May 7 said most business-wide metrics surged during-and-after the first quarter, ended March 31. Active accounts grew about 38% to 39.8 million compared to the previous-year period at 29.8 million accounts — driven by 70% year-over-year increase in new accounts.

Streaming hours rose by about 80% year-over-year, driven by an increase in streaming hours per account of approximately 30%. The company said pandemic-associated stay-at-home orders and increased unemployment appear to have accelerated the shift from linear TV viewing to streaming during the past few weeks.

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Roku cited Nielsen data indicating primetime linear viewing among adults 18-34 from March 16 to April 19 decreased 18% year-over-year, with about 50% of TV content consumption streamed.

In a shareholder letter, founder/CEO Anthony Wood and CFO Steve Louden said player sales increased 25% year-over-year. Roku TV models now account for more than one in three smart TVs sold in the U.S. and more 25% of smart TVs sold in Canada. Streaming hours increased by 1.6 billion hours to a record 13.2 billion.

“[We] have benefited from a surge in OTT usage,” Wood and Louden wrote. “Current events have increased overall demand for both players and Roku TV models around the world.”

Yet while net revenue grew 55% to $321 million, and platform revenue increased 73% to $233 million, costs ballooned 76% to $196 million, driven in parts by sales and marketing. Net loss skyrocketed more than 500% to $55 million from $10 million.

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Wood and Louden said Roku is working with retail partners and TV brands to plan for the rest of the year — given the possibility of restrictions or changes in consumer shopping patterns during traditionally strong sales periods such as Back-to-School, Black Friday and Christmas.

“Over the longer term, not only do we believe that the trends that we expect to define the streaming decade will remain intact, but changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic may even accelerate Roku’s path to greater platform scale,” they wrote.

Conviva: Q1 Streaming Video, Social Media Consumption Boom

As expected, streaming video consumption skyrocketed in the first quarter (ended March 31) with global use up 57% compared with the previous-year period, according to new data from Conviva.

The streaming media tracker found that as stay-at-home orders became widespread and live sports were suspended, over-the-top video consumption filled the void. Growth was led by Europe, up 70%, and the Americas, up 57%, while Asia and Africa saw 30% and 25% viewing growth respectively. As viewing habits changed globally, on-demand content increased 79% over the year, representing a 72% share of total viewing time worldwide.

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While the volume of sports-related social content was down in the quarter, sports organizations still managed to drive increases in engagement. Premier League soccer in the United Kingdom scored the greatest increase in engagements per post and engagements per video up 146% and 142% respectively, followed by the NBA with 119% and 126% increases respectively.

Conviva also identified which teams outperformed the field in engagements per social video. For example, unlikely suspects from smaller media markets, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Cincinnati Reds, Winnipeg Jets, and Orlando City Soccer Club, joined ratings juggernaut Dallas Cowboys as league-leaders in engagement on TikTok. In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter titles. The Pittsburgh Penguins conquered those same platforms for the NHL. Other leagues saw more disparity across the different platforms, with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Yankees each earning a top spot on two social networks—a feat the LA Galaxy also netted in MLS.

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Streaming media device pioneer Roku held a 44% share of global connected TV viewing time, and was the only device to net quality improvements, including 49% decline in video start failures; 37% higher picture quality, 33% less buffering, and 15% faster video start times. As a result, Roku boosted viewing hours by 55% year over year.

Across all devices, global streaming quality continued to improve with buffering down 27%, picture quality up 25%, and 14% fewer video start failures year over year, according to Conviva. Mobile reported the most progress with 38% less buffering, 27% higher picture quality and 13% fewer start failures. Mobile also netted the largest viewing growth year over year in Q1, up 60%, compared to 51% growth for connected TV and just 22% growth for PCs.

Data for the report was primarily collected from Conviva’s proprietary sensor technology currently embedded in three billion streaming video applications, measuring in excess of 500 million unique viewers watching 150 billion streams per year with 1.5 trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries.

Year-over-year comparisons were normalized at the customer level for accurate representations of industry growth. The social media data included in this report is based on an analysis of over 15 million posts, 1.7 million videos, and over 2.9 billion engagements across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

Roku Announces Jump in Active Accounts, Streaming Hours in First Quarter

Roku estimated 39.8 million accounts were active at the end of the first quarter, a net increase of nearly 3 million since December 31, 2019, according to a company press release.

Roku also announced it expects first-quarter streaming hours will be 13.2 billion, a 49% year-over-year increase.

Beginning in late Q1 Roku started to see the effects of large numbers of people “sheltering at home,” according to the press release. “For Roku, this has resulted in an acceleration in new account growth and an increase in viewing,” the company stated.

For the three months ended March 31, 2020, Roku expects revenue to be slightly higher.

“Consumers are turning to Roku now more than ever,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in a statement. “As the leading TV streaming platform in the U.S., Roku is proud to provide easy access to live news, free movies and TV, great paid content, and helpful programming for individuals and families who are sheltering at home. We have been working closely with advertisers to help update their plans to reflect new viewing patterns and adjust their overall marketing mix which has been affected by social distancing. While we expect some marketers to pause or reduce ad investments in the near term, we believe that the targeted and measurable TV ads and unique sponsorship capabilities that Roku offers are highly beneficial to brands today.”

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The company is revising its outlook in light of the pandemic.

“While we believe that our offerings to consumers, content providers and advertisers will enable our company to deliver value in these uncertain times, the wider business and consumer impacts, as well as the duration of the pandemic, are unclear and thus we are withdrawing our prior 2020 outlook,” said Steve Louden, Roku’s CFO, in a statement.

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Roku ended the first quarter with an estimated $587 million of cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash and short-term investments. This includes a $70 million draw-down from its revolving credit facility. “We decided it was prudent to draw down our credit facility in light of current financial market conditions,” Louden said in a statement.

Estimated results for the first quarter are $307 million to $317 million in net revenue; $139 million to $144 million in gross profit; a net loss of $60 million to $55 million; and adjusted EBITDA shortfall of $23 million to $18 million.

Roku will release first-quarter 2020 financial results May 7.

Roku Channel Bows in the United Kingdom

Roku late April 6 announced the arrival of its ad-supported free The Roku Channel in the United Kingdom featuring more than 10,000 movies, TV episodes and documentaries. There are no subscriptions, fees or logins required to access The Roku Channel.

The AVOD platform is available to consumers with a Roku streaming player, Roku TV, Now TV device (manufactured by Roku) or Sky Q box.

The channel features a selection of popular global and British TV series, including titles such as “Homes Under the Hammer,” “The Commander,” “Ultimate Force,” “Fifth Gear,” “Skins” and “Britain’s Best Bakery,” alongside Hollywood movies such as Get Carter, The Wicker Man and Les Miserables.

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“With The Roku Channel we are making it easy for consumers to find great free entertainment,” Rob Holmes, VP of programming, said in a statement. “Ad-supported viewing is one of the fastest growing categories on our platform and we are excited to meet the consumer demand for free TV.”

The channel includes personalized recommendations and search capabilities on Roku and Now TV devices. Users will also find a special “kids & family” section, easy for children and parents to find age-appropriate content. There is also a character row, helping parents and kids find shows. Titles include “Bob the Builder,” “Teletubbies,” “Oddbods,” “Bernard,” “Ryan’s World Specials,” “Fireman Sam” and “Baby Einstein Classics.”

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The Roku Channel helps existing publishers on the Roku platform as well as new publishers to drive additional viewership of their content. The Roku Channel in the U.K. features more than 40 content partners, including All3Media International, EndemolShine Group, FilmRise, pocket.watch and DRG, plus Hollywood studios Lionsgate U.K. and Sony Pictures Television, among others.

Roku: Idle TV Sports Viewers Streaming More Movies, TV Shows

With professional (or any) sports on television an early victim of the coronavirus pandemic, new data from Roku suggests linear TV viewers suddenly denied access to sports of any kind have embraced streaming TV shows and movies more aggressively than other Roku subscribers.

March 2020 Week 1 vs. March 2020 Week 3

NBA and NHL linear TV viewers increased their non-sports streaming on Roku among the following genres, respectively:
News: 92.15%, 119.83%
Film & TV: 74.92%, 67.56%
Lifestyle: 66.74%, 51.92%
Live TV: 52.88%, 60.12%
Music: 42.99%, 63.53%
Reality: 41.11%, 30.29%
Kids: 33.48%, 31.29%
International: 23.42%, 34.25%
Comedy: 15.04%, 19.66%
Sports: -49.99%, -71.42%

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“Roku users who watched the NHL or NBA on linear TV in February increased streaming hours on the Roku platform faster than the average Roku user,” Dan Robbins VP, ad marketing & partner solutions, wrote in an April 2 blog.

Robbins said that while overall linear TV usage among sports viewers is flat, they are watching more film, lifestyle, music and news on the Roku platform.

Roku had more than 30 million active accounts in the most-recent fiscal period. It added 1.4 million net accounts in the quarter. Viewers streamed 500 million more hours in Q2 than in the previous-year period, or 9.4 billion hours total.

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Robbins said Roku users who watched the 2019 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament (“March Madness”) on linear TV also streamed more video this March.

“Over the last three weeks, these fans shifted their prime time viewing to entertainment channels in the film & TV genre,” he wrote.