Roku’s Scott Rosenberg Dishes on the WarnerMedia and Quibi Deals

2020 may have been a breakout year for Roku, but it’s really just setting the stage for what’s to come next for the upstart streaming company.

Despite much bigger competitors like Amazon and Google, Roku saw its stock rocket 150% over the past 12 months on the strength of a dominant position among connected devices and smart TVs, as well as an advertising monetization machine just beginning to crank.

“We’re really at the precipice of reinventing how TV advertising is going to work for the next couple of decades,” said Scott Rosenberg, senior VP of the platform business at Roku on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “There’s huge value creation potential.”

But realizing that potential doesn’t come without growing pains. Rosenberg discussed the nuances that stretched out negotiations between Roku and WarnerMedia to secure the HBO Max app for its subscribers just in time for the debut of theatrical film “Wonder Woman 1984” on streaming.

“Just the plumbing of how two parties collaborate on things like ad insertion and targeting in measurement is more complicated, so sometimes that’s a rub,” he said. “But then again, I just think the upside is huge.”

Rosenberg also explained Roku’s recent deal to land the catalog of original programming from now-defunct Quibi, which could be a sign of more investment in the Roku Channel, though he stopped short of suggesting this will definitely be the first of many such deals.

“We think the content’s going to do great, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The shows are really fun, really broad spectrum. They’ll appeal to younger users, and we think they’ll resonate very strongly with adults 18 to 34, a key demographic for anybody in the ad business.”

The interview was recorded (video above) for the Variety Entertainment Summit on Jan. 11.

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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