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Roku's Jessica Masters Talks Cord-Cutters and OTT Monetization Trends

Learn more about OTT platforms and monetization at Streaming Media West 2022.

Watch full-session videos from Streaming Media East 2022.

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2022 here at the Westin Copley in Boston, Massachusetts. Today I've got with me Jessica Masters from Roku. Jessica, What's your title? And tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jessica Masters: I'm US head of Verticals, focused on insurance, financial services, and energy. I've been in the OTT/connected TV streaming space for about 10 years now, going back a a couple jobs. I was at ESPN for five years and towards the end of my tenure, they really started focusing on OTT. From there I made the jump to Hulu, where I spent five years really working to build that business, educating the marketplace. And then there was an opportunity at Roku that came up, which really excited me because I went from working on a specific channel to working on a platform, which along with that brings so much more opportunity from data to targeting to scale. So it's been a it's been a wild ride in streaming, but it's been a great place to be.

Tim Siglin: So, for you, from a platform standpoint, you're on a panel talking about the future of advertising. What do you see as the benefit for you across the board to be able to, to look at innovations in each of each of the different, say channels on the platform versus the platform as a whole?

Jessica Masters: Yeah, so I think it's really interesting. We have a lot of relationships with the channels, obviously from a distribution standpoint, and then we also aggregate inventory across those channels. But in addition, we launched the Roku channel about four and a half years ago. And 2021 was really a pivotal year for the channel. We're up to 80 million viewers. And so we're really looking at aggregating audience at scale and then being able to precisely target. So we have a one-to-one relationship with our consumers with over 61 million households. So we know who's in that household, what they're watching, and what their behaviors are, and we can put on third-party targeting. We can use our customers' first-party data to target really precisely.

Tim Siglin: Interesting. And that's obviously data that a channel itself would not have because they don't own the platform.

Jessica Masters: Not necessarily. A lot do have one-to-one relationships with the consumers. But since we're the platform, we have a relationship with the hardware login.

Tim Siglin: So where does that you in the natural next progression if we look two or three years out?

Jessica Masters: So we think a lot about this, and a big piece of what our business is, and going towards is automation. So a few years ago we acquired Dataxu, which has been rebranded OneView, and that's our DSP buying platform. So we really look at that as automating and then providing the ability to manage reach and frequency across all channel partners. So, regardless if you're buying from Roku or if you're buying Hulu that runs on Roku or Tubi or Pluto, or what have you, being able to use our 61 million households as an underpinning for that data to be able to manage reach, and frequency.

Tim Siglin: Interesting. Obviously, during the pandemic stay-at-home, stocks did phenomenally, Roku being one of them. If you can talk to this, has there been a drop off in viewership as we've come out of the pandemic, or is that momentum continuing forward?

Jessica Masters: The shift to streaming continues to happen. I can't speak to revenue guidance. But our Q1 earnings just came out, and there was an increase over 61 million households. So we are continuing to see a shift to streaming and, for the first time ever, streaming for adults 18 to 49 on a weekly basis has surpassed that a linear television. So we are seeing the shift continue to happen.

Tim Siglin: I think you're ahead of the curve on that again. William from NBCU said they're at about 38%. They expected a couple years to get to 50%. Given the fact that Roku obviously is an OTT-first platform, do you see some of that data?

Jessica Masters: Yeah. And what we see too, which is really interesting, are cord-cutters. So we overindex on cord cutters. 57% of the platform are cord-cutters. But then, when we look at the Roku channel--which is a FAST channel, essentially free, ad-supported--68% are cord-cutters. So we index really highly duplication with Netflix, but low duplication with Hulu or linear viewers.

Tim Siglin: We just presented the State of Streaming 2022 survey. And we asked a question on FAST a year ago, and we asked it again on FAST this time. And we're seeing that continued interest in FAST. So that's interesting as I'm thinking about when we do our future surveys, we need to ask specifically about the cord-cutting, because if you're saying cord-cutting essentially is heavily indexed that way, then what you're hearing is people weren't cutting the cord because they didn't want to watch content. They were cutting the cord because they didn't want to necessarily have that massive bill to pay.

Jessica Masters: Exactly. We just announced that Discovery Plus is bringing their premium subscription into the Roku channel. So it's really about aggregating that content and bringing ease of use and ease of viewership to the streamer.

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