“The future of TV via OTT is not 100 percent subscription services,” said Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s gm of platforms business, during a podcast interview with Digiday in September. “It’s a mix of ad-free and subscription-based things as well as ad-supported. … Across our platform in terms of demographic or income level, we see an uptick in ad-supported viewing. People are still cheap, regardless of income level.”
Some Roku channel content providers said Roku is likely to prioritize the Roku channel going forward because it has full control over ad sales; on most other apps, Roku gets a cut of advertising inventory from the video programmer. And armed with the viewing habits of not only the people that use the free-to-watch channel, but the 22 million registered users that also spend hours every day on the Roku platform, the device company has a compelling pitch to marketers, buyers said.
More than a year in, the Roku channel is drawing advertiser interest. Roku’s channel can collect a $40 CPM, based on what SwellShark has recently paid to run ads on the free-to-watch channel, according to the agency’s CEO Nick Pappas. That puts in on par with Hulu and other top OTT ad sellers.