Media & Entertainment

Roku experiences slow growth with only 1.1 million accounts added in first quarter


Image Credits: Roku

Roku’s first quarter of 2022 shows signs of slowdown, particularly with a slowing of total net revenue and subscriber growth, which was below what analysts estimated. There was a significant decrease in streaming unit player sales, as well, due to numerous challenges.

With only 1.1 million incremental active accounts added, Roku’s subscriber total was 61.3 million in Q1. This was slightly less than analysts expectations of 61.8 million. For context, at the end of 2021, Roku surpassed 60 million accounts, an increase of 3.7 million for Q4.

Roku reported significantly decelerated total net revenue growth of 28% in Q1 to $737.7 million. In the first quarter of 2021, the company reported a revenue growth of 79%. For the second quarter, the company projects total net revenues to grow 25% year-over-year to $805 million, lower than the consensus estimate of $815.7 million.

In addition, Roku reported a 12% year-over-year decrease in streaming unit player sales. The company explained this was because COVID-19 distorted business patterns, as well as the ongoing supply chain crisis and inflation.

“We have delivered solid performance in a challenging operating environment and expect that we will continue to navigate through macro headwinds, including inflationary pressures, geopolitical conflict, and supply chain disruptions,” CEO Anthony Wood and Chief Financial Officer Steve Louden wrote in a letter to shareholders.

The muted outlook, based on continuing macro headwinds, may lead to volatility like its rivals in the coming months. For instance, Netflix shares fell 35.1% following its bleak first quarter results. This drop is recognized as their worst day since 2004. Even though Roku has been the top streaming platform in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, its stock has dropped 6% in the last week, 20% in the last month and more than 70% in a year. While these numbers aren’t as dramatic, the market has become unpredictable as newer streaming players see more significant growth than older ones.

There’s a lot standing in Roku’s way, and the new Charter-Comcast venture may pose some heavy competition as a new media aggregator. Charter will contribute $900 million over several years to the effort.

Comcast and Charter team up to launch a new streaming platform for US consumers

However, Roku isn’t scared off by the competition. During yesterday’s call, Wood pointed out that the expenses associated with streaming tech will create an obstacle. He said:

It’s very hard for — certainly for a new player. Like it’s hard for you to imagine how they’re going to be successful given the long number of years that we’ve invested in our platform and our competitors have as well. But also, just you have to amortize that cost across a larger and larger installed base to be competitive. Scale is super important.

The company believes that it will continue to be the top-selling TV OS system in the country, no matter how many competitors it faces. Wood added that Roku has competed against strong companies for years like Google and Amazon, yet the reason Roku continues to win is that it remains successful in both streaming players and smart TVs as opposed to only one or the other.

In March, the latest version of its streaming TV software, Roku OS 11, launched. This focused on adding more personalization to the Roku platform, including the new feature Roku Photo Streams, among others.

Roku’s latest software offers collaborative photo screen savers, recommendations, and more

The Roku Channel had a successful quarter, for the most part. Streaming hours went up this quarter, with a total of 20.9 billion hours in the quarter, an increase of 1.4 billion from last quarter, up 14%. Last year, the company’s users consumed 73.2 billion hours of content through Roku’s services.

Earlier this week, Lionsgate and the Roku Channel announced a multi-year deal in which the free platform will receive two separate windows in which they will be the exclusive home for upcoming theatrical titles through 2024.

The Roku Channel signs multiyear deal with Lionsgate Films to stream free movies

This marks a significant win for FASTs (free ad-supported streaming TV), advertisers and consumers as well who have access to more and more free content.

Wood said:

The secular shift to TV streaming continues, and we are investing in the significant opportunity ahead of us. Our unique assets, including the Roku OS, Roku TV, The Roku Channel and our sophisticated ad platform continue to position us to extend our leadership in the years ahead. We remain excited about executing against this opportunity as more content, viewers, and advertisers move to TV streaming.

The company continues to expand The Roku Channel’s content library. Roku wrote in its shareholder letter that it previously reached a licensing agreement with A+E Networks as well as launched Discovery+ via premium subscriptions on The Roku Channel, bringing more than 70,000 episodes to viewers.

The letter added that on May 3, Roku will present new content coming to the service along with ad product offerings to advertisers at Roku’s first in-person Upfront event. The new and upcoming titles include “Honest Renovations,” a home renovation series hosted by Jessica Alba and Lizzy Mathis; “To Paris for Love: A Rom-Com,” and “WEIRD: The ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Story,” starring Daniel Radcliffe.

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