Charlie Collier, after greater than twenty years in broadcasting and cable TV, has jumped ship from the standard tv biz — betting that TV’s future is all about streaming.
As first reported by Variety, Collier is leaving his submit as CEO of Fox Leisure, departing from the Murdochs’ fiefdom to move up Roku Media, the place he’ll oversee content material and advert gross sales for the Roku Channel beginning subsequent month.
For Roku, recruiting the high-profile TV exec who introduced such hits as “Mad Males,” “Breaking Unhealthy” and “The Strolling Useless” to the small display might be considered as a shift towards extra strategic — somewhat than tactical — spending on authentic content material. Not by the way, Collier is also aware of the content material economics of the free-streaming house: Fox Corp. spent $440 million to buy Tubi in 2020, which has served as a monetization outlet for Fox TV programming.
The transfer alerts that Roku plans to spend extra on authentic content material. Buyers, who’ve soured on streaming shares in 2022, don’t see that as a rallying level: Roku shares have been down 1%-2% in early buying and selling Friday following news of Collier’s hire, to new three-year lows, though that got here amid a seamless decline within the broader market. (Yr up to now, Roku’s inventory is off 74%.)
Collier’s mandate, basically, is to drive up viewing hours of free, ad-supported content material on the Roku Channel (and, by extension, enhance related promoting income). In Q2, Roku gained 1.8 million lively streaming accounts, however overall streaming hours declined slightly from 20.9 billion in Q1 to twenty.7 billion.
Partly, the flattening of the streaming curve is as a result of it’s coming off COVID-era peaks. However the easiest way to ratchet up viewing time is with nice, must-see authentic or unique programming, which is ostensibly proper in Collier’s wheelhouse.
Up to now, Roku’s authentic content material technique has largely been opportunistic. The corporate paid some number less than $100 million for Quibi’s content library, in a fireplace sale after the Jeffrey Katzenberg-led startup went belly-up. That introduced the Roku Channel exhibits together with Kevin Hart’s “Die Hart” (renewed for Season 2) and Chrissy Teigen’s “Chrissy’s Courtroom.” Roku additionally paid $98 million to acquire the company behind PBS mainstay “This Old House.” And it bought U.S. streaming rights to “Kids Ruin Everything,” a sitcom that was already a hit in Canada, and revived NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” as a Christmas movie special (which earned Roku two Emmy nominations).
To be honest, Roku has made some strategic content material bets, together with the pickup of “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” a spoofy biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe because the famed pop-music parodist, which premieres Nov. 4 on the Roku Channel.
In the meantime, don’t low cost Roku’s alternative to increase its unscripted lineup. Fox’s largest hit whereas Collier was on the helm has been reality-competition collection “The Masked Singer.” Roku unscripted initiatives embody co-production offers to develop shows featuring lifestyle and culinary personalities Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and Christopher Kimball.
Roku execs have beforehand pointed to its comparatively frugal content material spending as a plus, mentioning that it doesn’t have a horse within the multibillion-dollar subscription VOD derby. However CEO Anthony Wooden wouldn’t have employed Collier if he didn’t anticipate the corporate to take larger swings to compete in opposition to the likes of Tubi, Paramount’s Pluto TV and Amazon’s Freevee.
Word that promoting and content material partnerships drive the majority of Roku’s income — and, successfully, all of its working revenue. In Q2, Roku’s Platform phase, which encompasses advert and content material revenue-sharing offers, elevated 26% to $673 million. Regardless of the double-digit improve, that was decrease than the corporate anticipated; Roku attributed that to entrepreneurs “abruptly” canceling or pausing advert spending within the again half of the interval.
In the end, Roku’s recruitment of Collier underscores a story the corporate has communicated to Wall Road over the past a number of years: “We’re targeted on and proceed to spend money on a future the place all TV and all TV advertisements are streamed,” because the streaming participant stated in reporting Q2 earnings. What that appears like beneath Collier’s stewardship stays to be seen — and it hinges on how a lot Roku is prepared to spend to turn out to be a free-streaming class chief.