Wolk’s Week In Review: The Roku Channel launches on Amazon, Tubi adds local news

TV[R]EV Week In Review

Well-known industry analyst Alan Wolk is publishing his popular Week In Review columns first on FierceVideo every Friday. This means that FierceVideo readers are the first to get all Wolk's insights as they navigate the fast-moving television business.

Wolk's Week In Review

1. The Roku Channel launches on Amazon

In what at first blush seems incredibly counterintuitive, The Roku Channel will now be available on Amazon Fire TV. 

Though the move does indeed sound puzzling on the surface, it mostly seems to be a way to increase distribution for The Roku Channel which gives them additional sources of ad revenue and a more well-rounded audience.

Why it matters

While The Roku Channel may be a hometown favorite on Roku devices, on Fire TV it becomes just another one of the FASTs and so it’s unlikely to see any sort of significant viewership. The goal here seems to be ubiquity—the more places The Roku Channel is available, the broader the audience its advertisers will be able to reach, the more it can do with its Dataxu asset, which is powering its new OneView product that helps advertisers better reach targeted audiences.

It’s notable that viewers cannot use The Roku Channel as an aggregator on Amazon, e.g., they are not able to subscribe to any other platforms via The Roku Channel, the way they can on an actual Roku device.

The final piece here is that while it may not have been the primary driver for this deal, the optics of the two streaming companies working together while HBO Max, which still does not have a deal with either one, sits sulking on the sidelines, is not a good look for AT&T.  While the two situations are not really all that analogous, consumers won’t notice that as much as they notice Amazon and Roku happily cooperating and working together.

What you need to do about it

If you’re an advertiser, the ability to target to viewers on both Amazon and Roku is a good deal, as you’ll be able to reach a potential audience that is somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the market.

If you’re Roku and Amazon, well done. The more you can be seen to work together, the easier it will be for you to maintain your positions as the major players in the AVOD ecosystem.

If you’re Alexa, here’s hoping you’ll have an easy time recognizing when people say “open The Roku Channel” and don’t respond with “Right now in Reykjavik, it’s 53º Fahrenheit with cloudy skies.” Because cooperation.

2. Tubi adds local news

Tubi, the Fox-owned FAST, announced that it would be launching a “News on Tubi” section which would include news from Fox’s local O&Os. This is in addition to feeds from NewsNOW from Fox, Fox Soul, Bloomberg, NBC News, PeopleTV, CBC, WeatherNation, Cheddar, News 12 New York, the Fubo Sports Network and the Black News Channel.

Why it matters

News, local news in particular, is often the last thing keeping users attached to their legacy pay TV providers. 

But as we discovered in our new report on the FASTS, there’s already a goodly amount of news content online available via the FASTs from mainstream news sources like CBS, CNN, NBC and ABC.

Local news is available too, via apps like Sinclair’s STIRR and via the CBSN app, which features news from most of CBS’s owned and operated stations.

The addition of local news to Tubi means that viewers have even more streaming options and thus less reason to continue to subscribe to traditional pay TV.  While the local offerings on streaming are still mostly confined to the major markets, we can expect to see more affiliates and independent stations coming on board over the next few years as more and more viewership shifts to streaming. 

It would also not be surprising to see the launch of a dedicated local news app that creates its own original programming—it’s an idea that gets bandied about a lot, one that several startups have tried to make happen, albeit without much success. My gut says they were just ahead of their time and as larger and more diverse audiences become streaming-only, the market will make that sort of app viable.

What you need to do about it

If you’re a FAST, you might want to think about the value of partnering with someone who can supply you with local news programming. O&Os will only cover 39% of the market and the more you can serve the remaining 61%, the better.

If you’re a local station, you might want to look at that suggestion in reverse: time to get yourself aligned with a streaming service, one that will allow you (and your advertising) to reach all of the viewers you are currently missing because they’re only watching streaming TV.  Especially given that number is only going to grow.

If you’re a consumer and you are thinking about cutting the cord but hesitating because you don’t want to give up local news, think again: between the FASTs, Flixes and dedicated local news apps like Haystack, which aggregates clips from your local TV news stations, you may be surprised to find that what’s on streaming more than meets your demand for local news coverage.