Streaming firm Roku ended 2020 on a high note, confirming that it added 14 million more accounts to bring its total to 51.2 million as of December 31st. With people spending far more time at home during the year due to the pandemic, streaming hours among Roku customers increased significantly, jumping 55% year-over-year to 58.7 billion hours.
Entering 2021, Roku shows no signs of slowing down, nor has the company lost any of its ambition. Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s VP of Platform Business, told CNN that the firm’s goal is to “capture all of the TV time that happens in a user’s household.”
Given the plethora of viewing options available to consumers today, that’s much easier said than done, but Roku believes it does have an advantage with its built-in, ad-supported The Roku Channel. The free platform currently boasts over 40,000 movies and TV shows and 150 live channels for Roku device owners.
Roku is hoping that if it can offer enough variety of content, its users won’t ever feel compelled to leave the platform. Rosenberg labeled The Roku Channel a “very strategic, important investment area” for the company, which is why we’ve seen additions recently like the content library from defunct Quibi.
While Quibi’s execution was flawed, the short-lived platform from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman had already signed a panoply of stars, including Idris Elba, Chrissy Teigen, Liam Hemsworth, Kevin Hart, Anna Kendrick, and more. Over 75 new shows will be coming to The Roku Channel some time this year. This level of exclusive content is likely to keep Roku users on the platform for longer periods of time, thereby increasing exposure to ads and increasing the opportunity for Roku to sell greater ad inventory volume. The Quibi content will be exclusive to Roku for two years, and it’s likely Roku will be seek out other shows in the coming months.
Roku’s own cord cutting study found that about one third of US households has cut traditional pay-TV. With its streaming device penetration and investment into The Roku Channel, Roku is well positioned to pick up many consumers who do cut the cord. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, The Roku Channel currently rivals Apple TV, Google Play, and cable on-demand services in use by US consumers who watch TV and movies digitally. While it trails major streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, it’s also not necessarily competing with these paid services since it offers access to these and more on its devices.