The Crucial Difference Between Roku and Netflix
January 26, 2021
Lead Tech Analyst
Last week, I posted an article exploring the difference between Roku and Netflix. In the article, I pointed out that because Netflix came in strong with the recent earnings, there is no reason to expect Roku will not also come in strong, especially as Covid and stay-at-home orders have accelerated the shift towards Connected TV.
It’s easy to compare Roku’s roughly 50 million users to Netflix’s 200 million and to assume Roku is a much smaller company or lagging the subscription behemoths, such as Disney Plus. This is a mistake as the ad-based video-on-demand (AVOD) market is a newer market than subscription-video on demand (SVOD). The AVOD market is distinguished from SVOD because it’s primary driver is pay-TV ad dollars rather than the cord-cutting trend or subscribers.
About $10 billion is spent on Connected TV ads compared to $70 billion on pay television ads in the United States alone. Pay-TV ad spend is now expected to decline by 15% to $60 billion this year due to the postponement of live sports and also due to an increase in cord-cutting from covid.
Here’s something to consider – cord-cutters aren’t going back to cable, and this places Pay TV ad budgets in a dilemma. These budgets have not cared much for mobile or desktop. Despite the sheer number of data scientists and (frightening) level of behavioral targeting used by Google and Facebook, Pay TV has held on to an impressive level of ad spend at about $70 billion in 2019 compared to $87 billion on mobile. One reason is that advertising on the television is more effective – no amount of data collection can change the video completion rate achieved when you’re sitting in your living room.
Although these budgets have not migrated to mobile or desktop in the past, those advertisers now have an opportunity to use data to personalize the advertising while viewers are in their living rooms. Roku and AVOD are the best of both worlds – combining data for targeting and high completion and viewability rates — and this creates a unique market from SVOD. For reference, completion rates on Connected TV ads are as high as 97% with 100% viewability, according to a study by Benchmark.
There are other reasons that I like Roku, such as owning the whole stack including the operating system, the management, it’s global opportunity, the agnosticism, etcetera– which I have covered in previous analysis. However, I try to keep things simple when discussing my thesis, and the migration of Pay TV ad budgets combined with Roku’s first-party data is why this stock has its best years ahead.
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