Roku names Scott Rosenberg as GM for platform business

Roku interface with recommendations (Roku)
Roku interface (Roku)

Roku is making Scott Rosenberg the general manager of its platform business beginning in January 2018. Rosenberg was already running the company’s advertising business and will now also lead content distribution as well.

Rosenberg’s new appointment comes after Roku’s longtime head of content and services, Steve Shannon, left the company at the end of 2017.

“Steve joined Roku in the early days of our monetization strategy and was instrumental in developing key advertising, content and services initiatives as well as recruiting top talent like Scott,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in a statement. “We are grateful for the contributions Steve made and wish him the very best as he moves on to his next great adventure.”

Rosenberg, who has been with Roku since late 2012, will oversee the combined staff and resources of advertising, content distribution and related services. Roku hopes the move will accelerate its ability to build platform products, increase user engagement and monetize active accounts.

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After Roku kicked off its long-awaited initial public offering last September, the company also announced a strategic shift. Though Roku’s streaming devices have proved to be a popular, lower-cost alternative to boxes from Amazon, Apple and Google, the company is now putting more emphasis on its platform as a growth driver for its business.

Indeed, while Roku’s streaming devices still account for the majority of the company’s revenue, revenue from Roku’s platform more than doubled in 2016 as compared with 2015.

Roku’s fourth-quarter results, reported in November, showed the platform creating the vast majority of the company’s $49.9 million in gross profits and turning in a gross margin of 77.5%, compared to the device business’s gross margin of 7.9%.

But Roku has been straightforward about its dependency on ad-supported video for future platform revenue growth.

“To date, the majority of the hours streamed on our platform have consisted of subscription video on demand content; however, in order to materially increase the monetization of our platform through the sale of advertising-supported video, we will need our users to stream significantly more ad-supported content. Furthermore, our efforts to monetize our platform through ad-supported content is still developing, and may not grow as we expect,” the company warned in its filing.

To that end, Roku announced its own ad-supported Roku Channel in 2017.