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Image credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Roku lays out its plan to please cord cutters -- and advertisers

Its first earnings report explains the path ahead.
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Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Now that Roku is a publicly traded company, it has to release quarterly updates about how things are going. Today in its first Q4 earnings release (PDF), the company said that revenue is up 28 percent from last year to $188 million, while the number of active accounts grew from 13.4 million to 19.3 million and those users streamed over 4.3 billion hours of video. While investors are concerned about lower estimates for Q1 2018, the report also reveals Roku's focus going forward.

The Roku Entertainment Assistant with voice commands announced late last year is expected to roll out "this fall." The company said one in five smart TVs sold in the US last year ran Roku software, and that it plans to maintain its position as the largest licensor of a smart TV OS.

That will be key to the other part of its business, which is advertising. A big part of what it's doing is taking over as viewers move from broadcast to internet video, which Roku sees as an opportunity to sell advertisers: 1-to-1 or "addressable" ads that go to the right person, house or box no matter what show you're watching.

Roku says that late last year it started using its Automated Content Recognition (ACR) capabilities to help advertisers know they're reaching "non-duplicated" viewers, and it plans to expand the use of ACR-related programs throughout 2018. If you use a Roku TV and would like to opt-out of the tech that keeps an eye on what you're watching, then you should disable the "More Ways to Watch" to watch feature.

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