The company reported 51.2 million active accounts at the end of the fourth quarter and 17 billion streaming hours, representing increases of, respectively, 39 percent and 55 percent.
Roku proclaimed that it achieved record revenue, gross profit and adjusted EBITDA for both the fourth quarter and the full year. Roku also boasted the top TV operating system in 2020.
“Despite a pandemic-related advertising slowdown in the U.S., our advertising business proved resilient with Q4,” the company’s CEO Anthony Wood and CFO Steve Loudon said in its shareholder letter. “Roku monetized video advertising impressions more than doubling year-over-year, as advertisers increasingly followed users from traditional pay TV to streaming. 2020 also saw prominent content publishers reorient toward TV streaming, further expanding the content selection for our users.”
In the investor letter, Roku also laid out some of its philosophy about its business.
“We believe that all TV will be streamed,” the letter said. “Our mission as the leading TV streaming platform is to connect the TV ecosystem of viewers, content publishers, and advertisers, thus creating a virtuous cycle that benefits all participants. At the core of our strategy is providing consumers with an excellent streaming experience via an easy user interface, broad content selection, and great value. We seek to grow the scale of our user base, increase engagement by our users, and then monetize the activity on our platform, which we can then reinvest in our platform.”
In terms of its outlook, Roku prepared investors for post-pandemic uncertainty, warning that in 2021, “year-over-year comparisons will be quite volatile.”
“We believe we have sufficient visibility in the short-term to provide formal outlook for Q1,” the letter stated. “However, as we look farther ahead, the level of uncertainty compounds when trying to assess the net impact of a variety of factors such as the timing of the vaccine rollouts, emergence of new COVID-19 variants as well as the lasting economic impacts of the pandemic.”
A report earlier this week, citing a job listing, indicated that Roku is looking to make a jump into original content, presumably on the Roku Channel. The company had announced a few weeks earlier that it had acquired the content produced by Quibi, the now-defunct short-form streaming service, during Quibi’s short lifespan last year.
“2020 was a pivotal year to start the streaming decade as pandemic related disruptions served as a catalyst in the fundamental shift to TV streaming and demonstrated the power of our strategy, technology, and execution,” the company declared. “Our strategy and execution are working well, and we are seeing the results in our financial performance, our continued position as America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform by streaming hours, and our early international successes.”
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.