Roku CEO Won’t Discuss Netflix Merger Rumors, Says All TV Ads Move to Streaming – Media Play News

Roku Founder/CEO Anthony Wood

Erik Gruenwedel

Market speculation about a possible corporate merger involving previous video streaming partners, Roku and Netflix, could continue to generate media buzz, but Roku CEO Anthony Wood did not respond to the topic.

“Regarding Netflix, obviously I can’t comment on rumours,” Wood told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin on June 22 from the Cannes Lions film festival in France.

It’s an interesting choice of words considering that Wood won’t get rid of the scuttlebutt either. The executive was Netflix’s head of short-lived internet TV in the early 2000s when the DVD movie rental service by mail prepared to launch the subscription streaming video (SVOD) industry.

Instead, Wood launched Roku with seed money from Netflix to produce streaming devices — including the “Netflix Player” in 2008 — that allowed consumers to connect televisions to the internet. Fast forward to today and the SVOD market — led by Netflix — is embracing advertising as the plateau of the standalone subscription video business.

Roku, through its pioneering ad-supported channel The Roku Channel is now a major player in the AVOD and ad-supported free streaming TV market with over 60 million active accounts. The Roku Channel is the top five channel on the Roku platform in the US by reach and engagement through the most recent fiscal quarter.

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For the first time, streaming TV devices outpaced legacy pay-TV devices (set-top devices and DVRs) in weekly reach in the United States, with 65% of adults aged 18-49 streaming TV compared to 63% watching legacy pay-TV, according to Nielsen. .

“Our advertising business has grown like a gangbuster,” Wood told Boorstin.

Indeed, in Q1, the top 10 broadcast TV advertisers increased spend on Roku by almost 80% year-over-year, while spending 7% less on legacy pay TV, according to Roku.

“All television will be broadcast. That means all the TV commercials will be broadcast,” Wood said.

The executive argues that the biggest obstacle to the growth of Roku — and all streamers — is that the marketer’s mindset is still used to spending money on old pay TV.

“Economics causes marketers to think harder about how they spend their money, how they can be more efficient,” he said.

When asked how Netflix’s delayed influence on ad-supported VOD could affect Roku, Wood took a deflection, saying TV’s evolution has been driven by ads.

“Advertising is great because it lowers costs for consumers,” he said. “We have been great partners, we have had a good relationship with Netflix for a long time. But we have good relationships with a lot of streaming content companies whether it’s Disney, YouTube or Hulu.”

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