Streaming media player maker Roku (NASDAQ: ROKU) utterly crushed its first public earnings release last week as the company executes well on its transition to becoming more of a platform company and less of a hardware company.
Not only is the platform business vastly more profitable, but also less susceptible to aspects of consumer hardware like seasonality, product cycles, inventory risk, and more. Platform revenue continues to steadily march higher.
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Currently, the platform business is mostly advertising revenue, which comprises about two-thirds of that segment. The remaining third of platform revenue comes primarily from content distribution with some licensing revenue from the company's Roku TV and Roku Powered programs. Shortly before the IPO, Roku also launched The Roku Channel, a first-party ad-supported channel that is free for users. The Roku Channel has quickly jumped to one of the top 20 apps on the platform, and is important to the company's future. Here's why.
On the call, CEO Anthony Wood outlined three strategic functions for The Roku Channel. The first is that a lot of content on Roku is buried within other apps, which makes it hard to find. Some of the very same content is on The Roku Channel, and that helps unearth it, and subsequently be monetized by Roku as well as the content owner.
Since content distribution is the second-largest part of the platform business overall, The Roku Channel also offers new avenues for content owners to reach audiences, especially those that may not have the ability to reach consumers directly.
The last piece is fairly obvious: It's free! Since The Roku Channel is a first-party channel, Roku has greater control and ownership over video ad inventory, compared to the 30% share of video ad inventory that Roku is entitled to for third-party ad-supported channels.
Senior VP of Advertising Scott Rosenberg added that Roku is putting all of its best ad tech in The Roku Channel, which lets the company sell ads at premium prices, while also integrating brand sponsorships.
Roku will always be a diverse platform filled with third-party apps and channels, but The Roku Channel will be a crucial part of building the platform business.
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