Roku this morning announced an expansion of its original content lineup, with the addition of 23 new Roku Original programs that will debut on August 13 on The Roku Channel free streaming hub. The new programing — which also hails from Roku’s acquisition of failed streamer Quibi’s catalog — will supplement the initial slate of 30 originals which were first released in May. Among the new programs are four shows that had not yet gone live on Quibi’s service before Roku purchased the content catalog for its own originals business.
These unreleased programs include “Eye Candy,” a “Nailed It!”-like competition series hosted by Josh Groban and inspired by Japan’s “Sokkuri Sweets;” “Squeaky Clean,” a cleaning competition series hosted by Leslie Jordan; Season 2 of pay-it-forward reality show “Thanks a Million,” executive produced by Jennifer Lopez; and 10-part docuseries “What Happens in Hollywood,” directed by Marina Zenovich, which details some of the industry’s most controversial secrets.
Other programs now arriving include: “&Music,” “The Andy Cohen Diaries,” “Benedict Men,” “Elba vs Block,” “Fierce Queens,” “Floored,” “Gone Mental with Lior,” “Mapleworth Murders,” “Memory Hole,” “Nice One!,” “Nikki Fre$h,” “Run this City,” “The Sauce,” “Sex Next Door,” “Singled Out,” “Skrrt with Offset,” “The Stranger,” “Survive” and “Wireless.”
Roku had praised the performance of its original lineup during its second quarter earnings last week, saying the new catalog had demonstrated “good performance,” without sharing specific metrics.
The company also said it would continue to invest in originals, but downplayed the size of their role in its larger strategy for The Roku Channel, where original programming is a smaller fraction of the content Roku offers its customers.
Noted Roku CEO Anthony Wood, The Roku Channel’s catalog consists mainly of content that comes from the licensing deals Roku strikes with various partners.
“It’s a portfolio approach and the originals are part of that portfolio,” he said. “The primary source of content is still licensing, but originals have benefits, as well. And as part of the portfolio, they’re a great addition,” Wood added. He also was careful to explain that the addition of originals wouldn’t have any impact on the gross margins related to The Roku Channel’s ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) business model. Instead, the expansion into originals, which has also included Roku’s purchase of “This Old House,” is more about user acquisition and its ad business.
“The other advantage of the originals is, of course, there’s a halo effect. So it’s helpful with the upfronts, it’s helpful with our advertising business and it’s helpful for bringing in new customers into The Roku Channel,” Wood said.
The company explained that originals drove more engagement among users, which then drove more advertisers — including new advertisers — and that gives Roku more money to invest in more content and further scale its business. Roku said that more than 42% of its advertisers were first-time upfront advertisers with the company, which had a lot do with its ability to offer original programming on The Roku Channel.
Overall, however, Roku saw a mixed Q2. The company beat Wall Street expectations with earnings per share of $0.52 versus estimates of $0.13, and revenue of $645 million versus estimates of $618 million, but reported a decline in streaming hours. Roku said streaming hours decreased by 1 billion from the first quarter of 2021, but attributed this to the pandemic, as more people were leaving their homes for activities like dining, entertainment and travel. Shares fell by more than 8% after the earnings report, despite Roku reporting that streaming hours had grown year-over-year by 19% worldwide.