Roku Sees Streaming Topping Pay-TV By 2024 But Stock Dives On Facebook, Comcast News

Dade Hayes

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Roku issued research Wednesday that forecasts TV viewing via streaming will exceed pay-TV viewing by 2024, but the company’s stock dropped sharply after Facebook and Comcast made streaming news.

The New Generation of Cord-Cutters, a study done for Roku by Macro Consulting that draws from both Roku-using and non-Roku-using respondents, obviously advances the company’s agenda. But it can’t be discounted as it mirrors recent third-party data on streaming. Many pay-TV providers, especially satellite operators DirecTV and Dish, expect subscriber losses to continue, while streaming has grown even before new offerings from Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia hit the market.

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Just as the report was released, though, news from Facebook and Comcast took a bite out of Roku’s stock. Shares fell 14% on the day to close at $129.88.

In 2019 to date, the stock has quadrupled as Roku has delivered strong quarterly growth and expanded its licensing and advertising businesses. Shares have pulled back noticeably in recent sessions based on announcements from rivals. Apple’s product event last week, which included the announcement of the $5-a-month Apple TV+ service, had a similar effect.

Comcast said Wednesday it would offer its internet-only customers free access to its Flex streaming platform. The system offers some 10,000 film and TV titles, as well as access to third-party apps. It will also be a major conduit for Peacock, the Comcast-NBCUniversal streaming service launching next April.

Facebook, meanwhile, has rolled out a new lineup of Portal devices, including Portal TV, a $149 device that converts a TV set into a social media hub and a venue for Facebook Watch programming.

The Comcast and Facebook approaches to streaming share one common business goal: selling advertising. Roku’s study nodded to the rise of ad-supported video on demand [AVOD] of late. It found that 73% of the streaming viewers in its survey watch AVOD and 45% of them watch free programming more than any other kind of streaming fare. Not surprisingly, respondents also told Roku that they find traditional linear TV has too many ads.

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