NBC Universal, Roku Bow Reality TV Streaming Service Outside U.S.

Roku and NBC Universal March 16 announced the launch of a reality TV streaming service in the U.K. Dubbed, “hayu,” the service – available on the Roku Channel Store – offers more than 5,000 episodes of U.S. and British reality TV shows, including “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and spin-off, “Life of Kylie,” in addition to “The Real Housewives” and “Million Dollar Listing” franchises.

Priced at £3.99 ($5.57), hayu offers subscribers a one-month free trial.

The shows – the majority of which debut on the service the same day as they premier in the U.S. – include on-demand access to catalog episodes from more than 150 shows such as “Vanderpump Rules,” “Top Chef,” “Shahs of Sunset,” and “Bad Girls Club,” among others.

“Reality TV continues to capture the hearts and attention of British consumers,” Ingo Reese, director content acquisition at Roku, said in a statement.

Hayu represents a further attempt by NBC Universal to market direct-to-consumer following the short-lived (one year) SVOD comedy platform SeeSo.

Hendrik McDermott, managing director at hayu, said the service enables NBC Universal to extend distribution of well-known U.S. brands beyond the pay-TV ecosystem in foreign markets.

“The launch of hayu … is an important step reaching even more consumers across the U.K.,” said McDermott.

The service is also available in Ireland, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Sling TV Updates Roku Navigation

Dish Network-owned Sling TV has launched new updates on Roku devices for easier navigation.

With in-app upgrades, customers can now add extras and premium channels to their account within the app by selecting their desired content from the in-app upgrades ribbon under “Add Channels & More” on the My TV screen.

Customers can now add on-demand channels to MyChannels, including Nat Geo Wild, Fandor, as well as on-demand content from NBC and Fox for Sling Blue customers who do not live in a market where linear content is available.

Favorite channels (indicated by a heart in the guide) are now shown first at the top of the “Grid Guide” and on the left of the “Channel Guide” and the new “Micro Guide.”

The company has reduced the size of the guide (called the “Micro Guide”) that appears while watching a show, so it takes up less of the screen. The full guide is still available by pressing “down” on the remote’s D-pad when watching a title.

Sling TV has changed the full-screen video navigation, so now pushing “up” on the D-pad will bring up the “Micro Guide” and pushing “down” on the D-pad will now bring up the old guide.

When pressing the “Exit” button on the remote, customers will now see a pop-up giving them the option to go back to their show or movie instead of leaving Sling TV.

To aid binge-viewing, Sling TV has updated the player view so when customers are watching an on-demand title, the app will automatically go back to the franchise page of the show they watched.

The changes are detailed on Sling TV’s blog.

Separately, Dish has selected The Richards Group as its new creative agency of record. The Dallas-based Richards Group was chosen following a comprehensive agency review.

“The Richards Group brings to the table a history of successful campaigns, breakthrough creative and a unique set of capabilities necessary to take the Dish brand forward,” Jay Roth, CMO and SVP of Dish, said in a statement. “Throughout the agency review process, Dish and The Richards Group discovered natural synergies between our two founder-led organizations, and we’re eager to bring the results of this partnership to market.”

FilmRise’s Ad-Supported Roku Channel Adds Classic Carsey-Werner TV Shows

FilmRise has launched several classic Carsey-Werner TV shows on its ad-supported Roku streaming channel, including the “3rd Rock From the Sun.”

The FilmRise channel ranks at No. 15 among top free channels on the platform, according to a release from the company. The channel generates more than 300 million monthly ad impressions and reaches nearly 20 million users who can watch movies and TV on demand for free, according to the release.

FilmRise will soon launch ad-supported channels on Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Apple TV, and smart TVs such as Vizio, among other platforms, and is currently in development on iOS and Android for mobile viewing via worldwide apps.

Other Carsey-Werner sitcoms available on the Roku channel include “Cybill,” “Grace Under Fire” and “Grounded for Life.”

“FilmRise’s tremendous growth on Roku sheds light on the power of ad-supported free digital streaming,” said Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise. “By bringing our vast library of quality content to viewers who don’t wish to pay a transactional or subscription fee, we’ve unlocked the potential to reach new and diverse audiences who want to experience the best in film and TV — including timeless TV series and iconic movies.”

Gun Safety Activists Urge Tech Companies to Drop NRA TV Streaming Service

In the wake of the Florida high-school shooting that left 14 students and three teachers dead, gun safety activists are asking tech companies to stop streaming NRA TV, an ad-supported service of the National Rifle Association.

Launched in 2016, NRA TV features original programming supporting gun rights and other issues, in addition to covering conservative events such as C-PAC.

“Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense” and “Everytown for Gun Safety” are calling on companies such as Amazon, YouTube, Roku and Apple to stop carrying the NRA TV app, claiming the platform “promotes dangerous conspiracy theories, racially charged rhetoric and violent demonization of the NRA’s political opponents,” among other issues.

“Everytown,” which is fighting to close existing loopholes in gun purchase background checks and curbing the illegal trafficking of firearms, is helping spread hashtag #DumpNRATV.

The groups are also asking pay-TV operators such as DirecTV Now to cancel programming produced by the NRA.

“American businesses have the responsibility to make ethical decisions about the content they will provide on their platforms,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement.

Watts, a mother of five children, founded “Moms Demand Action” following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Roku spokesperson Tricia Mifsud took the high ground, saying the over-the-top video pioneer merely acts as a conduit to programming users voluntarily choose to stream.

“We operate an open-streaming platform; however, our content policies prohibit the publication of content that is unlawful, incites illegal activities or violates third-party rights,” Mifsud said in a statement to CNN.com.


Roku Putting Emphasis on Content Distribution

Roku wants people to watch content on the Roku Channel. And consumers are responding.

Roku, together with Netflix, helped launch the subscription streaming video market more than 10 years ago with a branded “Netflix” media device – after Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings killed a planned proprietary Netflix player.

It was a shrewd move by Hastings focusing on nascent app technology and content distribution (and content creation) rather than antagonizing established CE manufacturers.

Roku, which comes from the Japanese word meaning “six,” symbolizing founder/CEO Anthony Wood’s sixth venture startup, continued down the hardware path bowing a series of set-top devices (including HDMI dongle sticks) and branded Roku TVs, enabling users to stream video from the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection.

Now Roku seeks to distribute third-party content directly through the Roku Channel. And content creators are responding, say company executives.

“It’s exceeded our expectations and is already material contributor to the video inventory that we sell through our advertisers,” Scott Rosenberg, GM and SVP of advertising, said on the fiscal call.

In addition to distributing content via the ad-supported Roku Channel, content holders can use a program called “Roku Direct Publisher,” which enables them to produce a dedicated app in the Roku Channel store.

“That content can also be syndicated and shown inside of the Roku Channel,” said Rosenberg. “So, it acts as a way to drive additional traffic, additional audience past content partners content.”

Roku says half of the AdAge Top 200 advertisers were clients on the Roku platform last year.

Roku platform revenue grew 129% to $85.4 million in Q4, with the largest contributor coming from advertising. Indeed, advertising made up about 75% of platform revenue and accounted for more than two-thirds of the $225 million in platform revenue for the fiscal year.

“Our entertainment networks are a great way to make our TVs better. There’s just a lot of areas that are driving our growth and that will ultimately contribute to continue to [average-revenue-per-user] growth,” said Wood.




Roku Ups Q4 Profit, Stock Tumbles Afterhours

Roku Feb. 21 reported fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2017) profit of more than $9.4 million, up 181% from income of more than $3.3 million during the previous-year period. Revenue increased 28% to $$188.2 million from $147.3 million last year.

Roku subscriber accounts reached 19.3 million, up 44% from 13.4 million last year. Streaming hours increased 55% to 4.3 billion hours from 2.8 billion.

Despite the fantastic quarter, investors responded negatively, dumping shares afterhours more than 21% to $40.23. Roku went public last September with an opening share price of $15.78. and closing at $23.50 per share.

At issue for investors is a first-quarter net loss guidance from $15 million to $21 million on revenue from $120 million to $130 million. Wall Street is projecting $131.7 million in revenue.

More importantly, streaming media device revenue declined about 7% to $102.8 million from $110 million. The drop has seen Roku roll out lower-priced units in an effort to better compete against rival devices from Google Chromecast and Apple TV, among others.

“The tectonic shifts we are seeing in the media and entertainment industries continue to strengthen our streaming opportunity,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “The fourth quarter was a fantastic quarter, reinforcing our position in smart TVs, streaming players, OTT advertising and content distribution.”

YouTube TV Available on Roku Devices

Roku Inc. and YouTube Feb. 1 announced the availability of YouTube TV on select Roku devices, allowing Roku users to stream live sports, local and national news, and shows as they air on live TV.

For $35/month following a free trial, users can get access to live TV from nearly 50 networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX and Telemundo. Sports and premium networks such as SHOWTIME, Shudder, Sundance Now and Fox Soccer Plus are also available for an additional monthly charge.

“We are thrilled to bring YouTube TV to our customers,” said Tedd Cittadine, VP, Content Distribution, Roku. “YouTube TV connects Roku users with great live TV from major broadcast and popular cable networks in a channel built specifically for TVs.”

“The way people watch TV is ever-evolving, and expanding our reach through the Roku platform was a great fit,” said Christian Oestlien, product management director, YouTube TV.

Some additional YouTube TV features available on Roku include:

  • Cloud DVR with no storage limits;
  • A “library” tab that includes easy access to the shows viewers have recorded by browsing movies, shows, and events by new, most watched, and more;
  • A “home” tab with personalized recommendations, including top picks and resume watching (allowing users to easily pick up where they left off on another device when they get home);
  • A “live” tab with a full program guide to see what’s on now and what’s airing soon;
  • A background playback experience so viewers never miss the action while they browse the app;
  • And the ability to share with up to five other roommates or family members in the household with each member getting their own login, DVR, and personalized recommendations.

Currently, YouTube TV is available in more than 80 metro areas and is available in the Roku Channel Store.

Supported Roku devices include all Roku TVs, Roku Ultra, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Streaming Stick (3800x, 3600x), Roku Express/Express+ (3910x, 3900x, 3710x, 3700x), Roku Premiere+, Roku Premiere, Roku 4, Roku 3 (4200x, 4230x) and Roku 2 (4210x).

Roku Challenges Amazon, Google With Branded NOW TV Streaming Stick in the U.K.

NOW TV, the standalone subscription streaming service operated by U.K. satellite operator Sky, Jan. 25 announced the launch of a branded streaming stick – manufactured by Roku.

Available in February, the £14.99 ($21) plug-and-play stick comes with a remote featuring voice-activated search technology, in addition to pausing live TV on premium channels, including Sky Sports, Fox, Comedy Central and Sky Atlantic.

“If you’re looking for a flexible way to stream great TV, contract free, the NOW TV Smart Stick is the cheapest in the U.K.,” managing director Gidon Katz said in a statement.

Unlike pay-TV, NOW TV sells subscriptions to genre-specific programing, including an entertainment pass, cinema pass, sports pass (available daily, weekly and monthly), and kids pass.

NOW is also marketing standalone broadband access, with speeds ranging from 17 Mbps to 76 Mbps.

Launched in 2012, NOW TV featured a Roku-manufactured set-top device and offered Sky programing on a monthly subscription. The service launched in Ireland last year.

With 21st Century Fox a minority owner of Sky, Fox helped bring Roku to Europe eight years ago following a $45 million investment from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Notably, when Murdoch put 20th Century Fox up for sale to Disney, the $52.4 billion deal did not include its 7% stake in Roku.

“Fox’s leaders understand the TV part is the fastest-growing part of the business,” Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku told TheStreet last November.

TiVo: Average Global Viewer Watches 4.4 Hours of Video Daily

Fueled by more than $130 billion investment in programing globally, the average person watches more than four hours of video on a daily basis, according to new data from TiVo.

The United States tops all countries with 5.1 hours spent per day on average consuming video. Other documented regions included the Brazil (4.7 hours), United Kingdom (4.2), Columbia (4.1), Mexico (4.1), France (3.7), and Germany (3.3).

TiVo said the average person spends 28 minutes daily searching for video content, based on online survey of 8,500 pay-TV and over-the-top video respondents.

“Viewers, content owners, new streaming services and devices have created a feedback loop where both supply and demand have grown exponentially,” wrote Jocelin Lee, senior manager, strategic research & market insights, and co-author of the report.

While 87% of U.S. respondents said they subscribe to pay-TV, 64% also pay for streaming video, including 44% using a streaming media device.

Not surprisingly, Netflix dominates among SVOD services with 82% penetration in the U.S., followed by Amazon Prime Video at 47% and Hulu at 32%.

Netflix’s highest regional penetrations include Mexico and Brazil at 91%, respectively. By comparison, Netflix has 65% penetration in France.

Among streaming devices, Roku (29%) enjoys a slight lead over Google Chromecast (21%), followed by Apple TV at 18% market penetration. Google Chromecast enjoys superiority in Columbia, Brazil, Mexico and France – all countries Roku is not sold.

Amazon Fire TV Stick ranks No. 1 in the U.K. and Germany – two strong Amazon ecommerce markets.

Roku Introduces New OTT Ad Measurement

Roku Jan. 17 announced a new service for over-the-top advertising measurement.

Ad Insights allows marketers to measure campaign reach and effectiveness across linear and OTT, and more accurately plan their OTT ad investments, according to Roku.

The insights are derived from Roku’s first party data as well as the linear and streaming viewership habits of millions of active accounts and billions of streaming hours, according to the company.

“With our rich first-party data, robust OS and relationships with our consumers we are in a unique position to continue to make meaningful advances in OTT measurement,” said Scott Rosenberg, GM of platform business at Roku. “Our investment in new measurement tools reflects our strong commitment to helping brands fully leverage the benefits of OTT advertising.”

The Roku Ad Insights Suite includes:

  • Reach Insights– Marketers can quantify unique campaign reach by demographic segments across linear TV, OTT, desktop and mobile.
  • Tune-In Insights– TV networks and content owners can measure the effectiveness of content promotions they run across linear TV, OTT, desktop and mobile.
  • Cord Cutter Insights– Marketers can target and measure campaigns delivered to Roku users who don’t have traditional pay TV subscriptions.
  • Survey Insights– Marketers can gather real-time feedback and demographic insights with short on-device surveys.

Previously, Roku announced it was the first OTT platform to integrate Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) and offer audience guarantees based on age and gender, the company noted. In addition to Nielsen, Roku collaborates with leading research providers such as Experian, Kantar Millward Brown, Oracle Data Cloud, Placed and others to provide transparent third-party measurement.