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Ad-Supported Platforms in the Current OTT Landscape

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Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: What role do you see ad supported platforms playing in the larger OTT landscape?

Lexie Knauer: I'm one of the few people who actually loves advertising. I think it serves a very important role for consumers, content owners, and brands for consumers. It's free content. It gives you access and democratizes education and entertainment. So if you're one of those people who either doesn't have the means or prefers not to pay, it gives you an alternate value. it's also a viewing format that we're used to. We've been consuming content this way since the beginning of television. For content owners, if you have exclusive premium content that you can do as a subscription service, this offers an additional revenue stream, if you want to do a multi-tiered approach. If you are offering free ad-supported content, as Jon's research suggests, this gives you a way to have skin in the game with the major streaming services. You can get a little bit more market share by having a lower barrier to entry. And then finally, for brands, it gives them access to this migrating audience in a controlled, measurable environment. It's a win-win for all three players in the ecosystem.

Jake Piasecki: A big piece of what we see across the 160 million or so consumers that we're servicing on the Roku platform is the value is choice. And the number one searched item on Roku devices is "free." And so to Lexie's point, that democratization of content, that ability for folks that are looking to cut the cord--that's something we haven't really touched on yet, but cord cutting is a massive thing that accelerated during COVID as well. We don't see it slowing down. You see it continuing. And a big piece of that is to seek out better value, all while either getting--to Jhn's point earlier--some of those exclusive shows that you can't get anywhere else that you only find on Netflix or Hulu, but then also that really large stable of comfortable, lean-back comfort viewing that allows that sort of channel-surfing opportunity that people scrolling through their set-top box on their cable boxes that will just tune shows in and out. That's now available on a lot of AVOD platforms too, which I think is incredibly valuable as more and more consumers make the shift out of linear cable television, into streaming television.

Jon Giegengack: That lean-back experience is one of the more overlooked benefits of some of the ad-supported channels. We talk to a lot of consumers who feel overwhelmed by the task of having to choose each show that they're going to watch next. It's kind of an ironic thing to feel overwhelmed by--a first-world problem to be sure, but people oftentimes want to just take their hands off the wheel and have something chosen for them. And this is something that we see in other types of content, like streaming music on Spotify, where they added channels that don't play every song in the world, but they play a very specific sort of genre. And you have some idea of what you're going to see and a better idea of what you're not going to see, but you don't have to actually have to fight through the decision paralysis of actually choosing what the next playlist is going to be. That's chosen for you. And there's a really good analog to that type of entertainment session in live streaming TV, or browsing sessions like Jake talked about a second ago.

Stanley Wong: We actually see an explosion of content out there from a lot of independent voices that are now getting their content out in front of consumers in a very big way, all the way from a lot of underserved audiences, for example, such as international audiences or multicultural audiences that are getting content from their home countries. There is definitely a place for SVOD-type content. But for most consumers, there's a certain amount of budget that they're able to pay for the premium content. And then beyond that, the long tail of content because of the democratization of platforms and access through multiple devices and so forth and so on, gives a lot of outlets for these new voices to be heard, especially the independent voices, the global voices, and other things giving access to those.

Derek Gatts: The thing that I would add that's exciting to me about advertising within a CTV environment from a platform perspective is everything feels so much more purposeful. If you're on a mobile device or a desktop device, so much of the consumption that the consumers are looking for is about filling time. And when I think about the ways that we use a CTV device in my household, it's so much more about gathering the family. It's about popping some popcorn. It's about preparing to sit down and consume content, and for an advertiser to have the opportunity to message a consumer within that mindset is so much more powerful than any other platform that we've had to date.

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