Roku Launching Original Talk Show Hosted by Randall Park

Roku, in collaboration with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, July 14 announced the premiere of “The Show Next Door,” a weekly talk show hosted by Randall Park (“Fresh Off The Boat,” The Interview), who sits down with actors, athletes, and musicians for conversation, games and comedy. The first two episodes of the six-episode series are streaming for free on ad-supported The Roku Channel.

Developed in partnership with Maker’s Mark and the Roku Brand Studio, “The Show Next Door” aims to stream the ambiance of having a quick drink with friends (who are of legal drinking age, of course) in the living room.

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Roku launched its Brand Studio in March to help marketers go beyond the traditional 30-second TV ad spot and amplify moments in the marketing calendar, including advertiser-commissioned short- and mid-form TV programs, interactive video ads, and other branded content on The Roku Channel.

Each episode of “The Show Next Door” takes place in Park’s “living room,” and begins with him crafting a favorite cocktail during his opening monologue. Season One guests include Tony Hale, former NFL star Terrell Owens, Fortune Feimster, Jason Mraz, Mark Duplass and Gina Yashere, among others.

“I always wondered what it would be like to host a talk show, and now I know — it’s super fun,” Park said in a statement.

The show’s focus is based on consumer insight, with Roku saying comedy content has performed particularly well on The Roku Channel. In the first quarter of 2021, Roku saw streaming hours for comedy content grow 798% on the platform compared to the first quarter of 2020.

“We turned to the Roku Brand Studio because we want to go beyond the traditional ad experience on the largest screen in the home,” said KK Hall, global senior marketing director for Maker’s Mark.

Brian Toombs, head of content at Roku Brand Studio, said “The Show Next Door” is an example of moving beyond the traditional 30-second ad and creating a “fun and uplifting” comedy so an advertiser reaches streamers
whether they are watching ad-supported or subscription-only content.

The show will be available to stream for free on The Roku Channel and across Marker’s Mark social media channels. Starcom USA, which oversees media on behalf of Maker’s Mark, developed the partnership alongside Roku and Maker’s Mark.

Samsung Expands TV Plus AVOD Platform to Web

Samsung has quietly rolled out its ad-supported “TV Plus” streaming video platform app for anyone to access on the internet. The app, which streams third-party content such as ABC News Live, PBS Kids, ION Plus and Vice, similarly to Redbox Live TV, The Roku Channel, Pluto TV and Tubi, has been available since 2016 for mobile devices and Samsung TV owners.

Samsung also made the app available to cast on Google Chromecast devices, according to Protocol, which first reported the move.

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Since launching the app, Samsung reportedly has installed the platform in 50 million of its connected televisions, in addition to access on Galaxy mobile devices. It is also available in 23 countries.

“We stream billions of minutes every month,” Sang Kim, SVP of Samsung Electronics, told the publication.

Indeed, AVOD and free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST, has grown in popularity among CE manufacturers and media companies unwilling to directly take on SVOD, including heavyweights Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu.

More importantly, AVOD is generating ad-revenue, hundreds of millions of dollars worth. In its most-recent fiscal filing, Roku reported it generated $466 million in Q1 platform-related ad revenue, up 101% from the previous-year period.

Both ViacomCBS and Fox Entertainment contend their respective AVOD platforms (Pluto TV and Tubi) can generate about $1 billion in annual advertising revenue by next year.

Roku: Launch of Originals Drives Record Two-Week Streaming Period for The Roku Channel

Roku June 18 provided an update on the recent launch of its branded original content. In late May, Roku added 30 original series to The Roku Channel starring Kevin Hart, Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Lopez, among others, following the purchase of content from defunct streaming service Quibi. The debut helped build significant growth of The Roku Channel, and ad-supported VOD platform, which reached an estimated 70 million people in the U.S. as of the first quarter, ended March 31.

In the two weeks following the launch of Roku Originals, May 20 to June 3, a record number of unique accounts streamed The Roku Channel. Furthermore, the Top 10 most-watched programs on the channel were all branded originals in this two-week period.

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“We always believed Roku Originals would perform exceptionally well as free, ad -supported entertainment on The Roku Channel,” Rob Holmes, VP of programming, said in a statement. “The first two weeks have surpassed our expectations … and provided a further demonstration of The Roku Channel flywheel driving record engagement that’s appealing to advertisers seeking to reach the streaming audience.”

In addition to driving broader discovery of The Roku Channel, Roku Originals saw deep engagement. In the first two weeks, more than one in three users streamed a an original series — with users streaming more than nine episodes on average.

Roku expects to release an additional 45 originals this year to complement the channel’s library of 40,000+ free movies and television programs and 190+ live linear channels already offered to viewers.

Recently, Roku ordered a second season of the Roku Original series “Die Hart,” after the action-comedy series starring Kevin Hart had the largest opening weekend in the history of The Roku Channel. In May, Roku inked a deal with Saban Films to bring the studio’s feature films directly to The Roku Channel after theatrical release — a first-of-its-kind agreement for Roku. In March, Roku acquired “This Old House,” which included the two top-rated home improvement programs in the U.S and a television production studio.

The Roku Channel licenses and distributes content from more than 175 partners and is the home of free and premium entertainment on the Roku platform. In addition to Roku devices, The Roku Channel is available on Web, iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV and select Samsung TVs and can be accessed internationally in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

CFO: Roku Original Content Spending to Grow

Roku is releasing rebranded Quibi content, launched an original TV series, inked a  Pay 1 rights deal with Saban Films, and is bowing a weekly content recommendation show. Those are the first steps in a strategic move to increase content on The Roku Channel commensurate with audience scale and advertiser response, CFO Steve Louden told an analyst event.

Roku CEO Steve Louden

Speaking June 7 on the virtual Evercore ISI Inaugural TMT Conference, Louden said the growth trajectory and the average monthly user count has increased to the point that the flexibility to spend more and access content differently is there compared to the past when Roku didn’t have the scale and the budget to do it.

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“The backbone will still be general content licensing and revenue sharing,” Louden said. “But we have an opportunity now that we have more data, more scale to also improve the cost structure of things in certain cases.”

Louden said the dollars invested in content will grow because the Roku Channel doubled year-over-year in audience in 2020, and has grown twice as fast as the overall Roku operating platform.

“We haven’t given specific guidance on how that compares to the other buckets of [operating expenditures], but we’re very bullish on the Roku Channel,” he said. “Remember, the channel is a great place to aggregate a lot of content, because we are the platform owner, we have a first party relationship with consumers.”

Louden contends that Roku’s data set and recommendation algorithms could be finely tuned to structurally assist with the channel’s ability to monetize.

“Since we know who’s watching … we have an advantage over a standalone AVOD which doesn’t know who’s watching,” he said. “We can have premium targeted ads where [standalone AVOD] can’t be as effective as we can. So there’s a great flywheel there for the Roku channel: More content, more engagement, that drives more ad inventory … and allows us to grow the Roku Channel more.”

The Roku Channel to Debut 30 ‘Roku Originals’ on May 20

Roku May 13 announced it will debut Roku Originals on the Roku Channel on May 20, a.k.a. “Streaming Day,” which commemorates the launch of the very first Roku streaming player (with Netflix) in 2008.

The originals, which Roku acquired from shuttered SVOD app Quibi, features 30 titles, including award-winning scripted series, such as “Die Hart,” #FreeRayshawn” and “Reno 911!”; documentaries, such as “Blackballed” and “Big Rad Wolf”; and alternative and reality programming, including “Punk’d” and “Chrissy’s Court.”

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“The launch of Roku Originals will bring incredible, premium entertainment that has breadth, depth and diversity to the millions of streamers who regularly visit the Roku Channel and to many new viewers who may not even have a Roku device,” Sweta Patel, VP of engagement growth marketing, said in a statement.

Programs available on May 20 include:

  • “#FreeRayshawn”
  • “About Face”
  • “Bad Ideas with Adam Devine”
  • “Barkitechture”
  • “Big Rad Wolf”
  • “Blackballed”
  • “Centerpiece”
  • “Chrissy’s Court”
  • “Cup of Joe”
  • “Die Hart”
  • “Dishmantled”
  • “Dummy”
  • “Fight Like a Girl”
  • “Flipped”
  • “The Fugitive”
  • “Gayme Show”
  • “Iron Sharpens Iron”
  • “Last Looks”
  • “Let’s Roll with Tony Greenhand”
  • “Most Dangerous Game”
  • “Murder House Flip”
  • “Murder Unboxed”
  • “Nightgowns”
  • “Prodigy”
  • “Punk’d”
  • “Reno 911!”
  • “Royalties
  • “Shape of Pasta”
  • “Thanks a Million”
  • “You Ain’t Got These”

Roku will debut additional shows on the Roku Channel later this year.

“As the Roku Channel grows, we will continue to be even more creative and expansive in sourcing content that will perform well in an advertising-supported streaming model,” Patel said.

Rotten Tomatoes Launches OTT Channel on Roku

Rotten Tomatoes, a fan resource for movie, TV and streaming recommendations owned by Fandango, is expanding its entertainment footprint with the launch of the Rotten Tomatoes Channel, an OTT channel on The Roku Channel.

The 24/7 linear programming channel from Rotten Tomatoes will launch with more than 10 originally produced shows, totaling 100 hours of premium long and short-form video content.

The Rotten Tomatoes Channel is available now on The Roku Channel and is coming soon to Peacock, Xumo TV and vMPDs (virtual multichannel programming distributors), with more to come, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

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“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with fans through our new Rotten Tomatoes OTT channel,” said Sandro Corsaro, Rotten Tomatoes SVP and chief creative officer. “The channel will not only deliver an around-the-clock celebration of entertainment but continue our brand promise to help fans find what to watch, by delivering the best movie, TV and streaming recommendations.”

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On the Rotten Tomatoes Channel each week, viewers will get the latest trailers; breaking movie and TV news; new takes on beloved movie and TV scenes; conversations and games; and recommendations on what to watch. It will feature some of the biggest names in entertainment and will include interviews with stars such as Dwayne Johnson, Daniel Kaluuya, Awkwafina, Issa Rae, Robert Pattinson, Janelle Monae, Kevin Feige, Jordan Peele, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zendaya and more.

Shows include:

  • “Countdown,” a countdown to the best movies, shows, scenes and more according to the Tomatometer and top entertainment experts;
  • “The Vault,” a nostalgic look back at the best star interviews, red carpet chats, games, and more from the Rotten Tomatoes archives;
  • “Trailers Reloaded,” an opportunity to relive the hype around the biggest movies and shows ever with an extensive collection of trailers;
  • “Becoming,” in which Hollywood’s biggest names break down their biggest transformations from some of their most iconic roles;
  • “Rotten Tomatoes Essentials,” an informative look back at the movies, shows, stars and directors that defined genres and eras;
  • “Versus,” which uses Tomatometer scores, box office data, and more to settle the biggest movie and TV debates of all time;
  • “Oral History,” featuring the full stories behind the world’s most cherished films, shows, and franchises, from the people who made them great;
  • “Rotten Tomatoes Exclusive Interviews,” featuring the biggest stars and filmmakers in the world opening up about the movies and TV shows that have everyone talking;
  • “Aftershow,” in which ovie lovers, critics, and industry experts debate some of the biggest movies of recent times;
  • “Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong,” a video version of the weekly podcast, exploring some of the most beloved — and despised — movies and shows ever made;
  • “Scene Breakdown,” in which filmmakers and stars breakdown some of the most memorable scenes of recent times, moment by moment;
  • “Name the Review,” in which laughs ensue when stars are faced with some of their weirdest and harshest reviews; and
  • “Five Favorite Films,” in which filmmakers and stars share their all-time favorite movies — and why they mean so much to them.

 

Visits to its editorial content were up 157.4% in 2020 from the previous year — with a 26% increase in page views to TV and streaming pages, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Roku Unveils ‘Roku Originals,’ Repurposing Quibi Content to The Roku Channel

Roku April 21 announced that the content from its Quibi acquisition in January will be re-branded as “Roku Originals,” and will be launched on The Roku Channel. “Roku Originals” will also be the brand name for future original programming for The Roku Channel for viewers in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. Additional details on the launch of Roku Originals will be shared in May.

More than 75 Roku Originals, including a dozen unreleased series, will debut for the first time this year. The addition of Roku Originals comes at a time of incredible growth for The Roku Channel, which reached U.S. households with an estimated 63 million people in Q4 2020, up more than 100% year-over-year.

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“We’re [are introducing a] diverse portfolio of entertainment under the Roku Originals brand [that’s] relevant, fun and thought-provoking TV that has something for everyone,” Sweta Patel, VP of engagement growth marketing at Roku, said in a statement.

Roku Originals join The Roku Channel’s lineup of more than 40,000 free movies and programs and 165+ free live linear television channels. The Roku Channel licenses and distributes content from more than 175 partners. In addition to Roku devices, The Roku Channel is available on Web, iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV and select Samsung TVs, and can be accessed internationally in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Roku Launches Ad Studio Ahead of TV Upfronts 

Roku March 23 announced the launch of an advertising brand studio to produce new creative ad formats and TV programming tailored for marketers.

The advertising brand studio will help marketers go beyond the traditional 30-second TV ad spot and amplify big moments in the marketing calendar, including advertiser-commissioned short-form TV programs, interactive video ads, and other branded content on The Roku Channel.

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“The shift to TV streaming has accelerated and leading advertisers are going beyond the 30-second ad,” Dan Robbins, VP of ad marketing, said in a statement. “We’re excited to … create streamer-first campaigns on America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform.”

In launching the studio, Roku has completed an agreement with the Funny Or Die Branded Entertainment division in which a number of the company’s branded content team members will join Roku. Industry veterans Chris Bruss and Brian Toombs from Funny Or Die and Rachel Daly Helfman from Snap Inc. will join Roku’s Patrick Colletto in leadership roles for the advertising brand studio. The executives have crafted award-winning content for advertisers such as Kroger, Lyft, Ralph Lauren, Wendy’s and more.

TV streaming has creative flexibility that goes beyond what traditional linear TV can offer to marketers. The new advertising brand studio will build on Roku’s existing offerings, which include sponsorships and native ads such as this year’s TurboTax partnership that will bring the 2021 March College Hoops Hub to life in TV streaming. In partnership with Roku, the brand built a College Basketball Game Guide on the Roku platform that not only unlocked free college basketball content for streamers, but also invited streamers to try to beat the buzzer across their TV and phone with an augmented reality lens.

Immersive branded experiences drive incremental value for both marketers and consumers today. A 2020 study by MAGNA, Roku and IPG Media Lab, “Valuing the Value Exchange,” found that these branded experiences, alongside video advertising, generate 4X greater purchase intent than video advertising alone.

“Branded experiences on the Roku platform helped us shift ad budgets quickly to TV streaming and go beyond traditional advertising to move the needle on purchase consideration,” said Lisa McQueen, media manager of Lexus. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Roku for a world-class, hands-on production experience for our streaming TV advertising campaigns seen by millions of streamers.”

Roku will unveil additional details, partners and advertising projects at its IAB NewFronts presentation on May 3.

Roku Acquires ‘This Old House’ Business

Roku has acquired the “This Old House” business, including its global distribution rights and all of its subsidiary brands, including the “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” TV programs, the show libraries, all digital assets, and the television production studio.

“This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” were the two top-rated home improvement programs in the United States in 2020, according to Nielsen data, and have earned a total of 19 Emmy Awards and 102 nominations, according to a Roku press release. Past seasons of “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” are already available for free on The Roku Channel through both linear and on demand programming. Current seasons (“This Old House” season 42 and “Ask This Old House” season 19) are available for free on The Roku Channel as on demand episodes after they air on local PBS stations.

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“As the top-rated home improvement programs in America, ‘This Old House’ has the broad appeal that is perfectly suited to support The Roku Channel’s ad-supported growth strategy,” Rob Holmes, Roku VP of programming, said in a statement. “‘This Old House’ created the television home improvement genre and is beloved by millions of fans. We are thrilled to welcome this incredible team, and we could not be more excited to help grow the brand for an entire new generation of home improvement enthusiasts.”

“The passion of the craftspeople on ‘This Old House’ is matched only by its viewers, and we take great pride that over the past four decades we have helped them improve their most valuable asset — their home,” Dan Suratt, CEO, This Old House Ventures, said in a statement. “Roku is not only the No. 1 TV streaming platform in America, it also represents the future of TV, and we could not think of a better home for ‘This Old House’ to grow and to continue its leadership position in the home improvement genre.”

“This Old House,” which marked its 40th Anniversary in 2019, has broad distribution that “enables fans to find the authoritative voice in home improvement on their platform of choice, and makes the shows an ideal partner for leading national brands seeking to reach the attractive home improvement consumer segment,” stated the Roku press release.

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Roku plans to expand both the production and distribution of the “This Old House” brand, according to the press release.

Roku acquired TOH Intermediate Holdings, which owns the “This Old House” business, from TZP Group. The executive team of “This Old House” will join Roku, including CEO Dan Suratt. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

News Analysis: AVOD Upping Content Game

As subscription streaming services HBO Max and Paramount+ prep lower-cost, ad-supported consumer options, free ad-supported platforms are entering the original content arena and targeting a growing audience that eschews pay-TV and is not interested in substituting the cable bill with multiplying SVOD fees.

Pluto TV, the AVOD unit owned by Paramount’s corporate parent ViacomCBS, is eyeing a cross-pollination of original content migrating between its 22 million average monthly viewers and SVOD Paramount+. Fox Corp.’s Tubi is eyeing funding lower-budget original movies and TV shows. The platform saw viewership jump 58% in 2020, including 33 million average monthly viewers throughout the fourth quarter. More importantly, viewers consumed 750 million hours of content in the second quarter, which was 70% higher than the previous corresponding period.

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CFO Steve Tomsic told a recent Wall Street investor group Tubi represents the “broadening of the future” for network television, and said he would consider original programing in an attempt to increase ad revenue, which is expected to reach $300 million this year and $1 billion annually in the near term.

“It’s often these really cost-effective titles that a lot of the viewership resides in,” Tomsic said, adding that Fox content assets such as “The Masked Singer” are being co-distributed on Tubi to give the platform an “extra special” edge, and the platform more “breadth” in terms of content.

“Don’t expect us to invest in really meaningful ways in terms of scripted entertainment dramas that come with huge price tags and are really difficult to make work out of the economics of broadcast television,” Tomsic said.

Meanwhile, Roku, which helped co-launch the SVOD market in 2008 with Netflix, is eyeing original content for The Roku Channel, the company’s branded AVOD platform. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, Roku reported 51.2 million monthly active users in the U.S. This figure is the company’s highest-ever active quarterly user total.

To keep those eyeballs returning, Roku is beginning to dip its toes in original programming. The platform March 19 launches “Cypher,” an FBI series featuring seven, one-hour episodes and available free to viewers of The Roku Channel. The AVOD will also become the exclusive destination for more than 75 premium shows and documentaries acquired from short-lived SVOD platform Quibi.

March 18, Roku announced it would kickoff the IAB’s official 2021 NewFronts Lineup on May 3 as the week’s first presenter to media buyers.

“We’ve seen first-hand the role that TV streaming has played in consumers and marketers lives in the last year,” Alison Levin, VP of global ad revenue and marketing solutions at Roku, said in a statement. “Roku is thrilled to kick-off the first presentation at IAB NewFronts once again this year and looks forward to sharing how marketers can buy TV like you watch TV.”

In February, AVOD service Crackle Plus announced that production had begun on season two of its original series “Going From Broke,” the unscripted show spotlighting the financial epidemic of student loan debt executive produced by Ashton Kutcher and hosted by Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig.

Crackle corporate parent Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment operates several ad-supported streaming services (PopcornFlix, Frightpix, faith-based Truli, Espannolflix), with an eye on streaming original and under-the-radar programming to a growing user base.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says the AVOD market offers programmers and advertisers two options: lower-priced subscription plans such as $5.99 Hulu and pending HBO Max and Paramount+. These AVOD editions are typically limited to delivering no more than three to four minutes of ads per hour. By comparison, completely free platforms such as Tubi, Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV and Crackle can advertise as much as 10 to 12 minutes per hour.

“There’s room for both business models,” Pachter said in an email. “[Crackle buys] produced content for exclusive streaming windows. Really innovative.”