Roku’s Next Frontier Is Original Content

Roku’s Next Frontier Is Original Content

The Roku Channel has also been a cash cow for the company.

Roku has been on a roll in a big way for the last year or so, as the pandemic led to a lot of people staying home more and using the company’s products as a conduit for entertainment.

The company’s stock has surged throughout the last year, from $119.38 a share a year ago to $474.74 today, as the company has become more of a household name over time, along with robust sales of both Roku-branded TVs and Roku boxes and sticks. Roku has said that its users streamed nearly sixty billion hours on the platform in 2020. 

The company said last month that Roku, citing NPD’s Weekly Retail Tracking Service, was the top operating system in the year 2020, with 38 percent of the market in the United States.

The Roku Channel has also been a cash cow for the company, through its advertising business. The free streaming Channel has consistently added programming in recent years, including the recent arrival of the entire run of the popular action series 24. The Roku Channel also recently grabbed all of the content from Quibi, the much-maligned short-form streaming service that launched and then folded within the span of a few months last year.

Now, it appears that Roku is going to be the latest company in the tech space to jump into the original content race. 

The tech newsletter Protocol reported Tuesday that it appears Roku is looking to produce its own original content. The source of the report, as often happens in the tech business, was a job listing on LinkedIn. The ad stated that Roku was looking for a Lead Production Attorney, one who would "work on its expanding slate of original content.” Protocol credited  Revealera, “a data provider for job openings,” with having discovered the listing in the first place.

The attorney in question will “draft and negotiate agreements, and providing legal guidance, primarily relating to the all manner of development and production agreements, including option purchase agreements, script acquisition agreements, life rights agreements, agreements to hire writers, actors, directors and individual producers, production services agreements, below-the-line agreements including for department heads, location agreements, clearances, prop rental agreements, likeness releases and credit memos.”

The listing, possibly due to attention brought by the report, is now “no longer accepting applications.”

It’s unclear how soon Roku plans to debut its own original shows, or how much money the company plans to commit to the project. But Roku acquiring the exclusive rights to a hit TV series or movie would serve to encourage users to switch to the Roku platform.

Roku is set to announce its fourth-quarter earnings later this week, on Thursday. 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters