The Best Way to Promote Your Roku Channel


Interested in starting your own TV channel? How to get people to watch…

There is no better platform than Roku. The industry leader in the OTT field, Roku boasts a viewership of more than 55 million. In this day and age, the question is not ‘should you start a TV channel?’ but rather ‘how to effectively do so?’. A huge part of this comes down to marketing. The problem is, you love all things media. And nothing about marketing. Hence, this article is being written just for you.

I will lay out some foundational elements that everyone needs to keep in mind. Next, I will explain a couple of paths you can follow based on your budget. There is going to be something in here for everyone, so keep reading.

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By choosing to launch on Roku, you are positioning yourself with the top OTT platform in the world. The ad revenue here is boosted as well due to the ad agencies following this colossal audience. If that does not sound awesome, mostly because you do not plan on having commercials, no worries. This platform still has the largest user base out there!

So you have decided to launch a Roku channel.

You still have some work ahead of you though. Long gone are the days where you could start a channel, add catchy content, then watch an audience flock to you. Supply and demand, my friend. No one has time to scroll through 5,000 channels. You will need a marketing plan.

But before you are ready to start promoting, you should have something to promote. So let’s get our ducks in a row, shall we? First, when using TvStartup, all of the storage, programing, and uploading abilities required to operate a TV channel are taken care of for you. That said, you still need to put real thought into your niche, logo, splash, colors, thumbnails, ‘voice’ or style, etc.

All of these not only affect your channel but also how you will promote it. Here is a basic example of how this applies: how a punk-rock channel promotes itself is vastly different from the manner that a classic movie channel would. What could work for one would fall flat or worse with the other.

As an aside…

Please recall all of the articles we have that reference: Niche. If you have dreams of a general content channel, it is all but guaranteed that you will be playing second fiddle to Netflix. And that’s a best-case scenario. It could easily be worse. But hey… it is your dream. I just want you to be successful. And success points to being niche.

I will be frank with you. You have done the work of supplying the content, whether by producing it yourself or contracting it. You are uploading content, creating custom thumbnails, and maintaining your channel. Do not sell yourself short by skimping out on the other half of work. And that work is promotion. It will likely be the deciding factor in your success. Granted, all channels will experience some growth organically. My concern is that you are growing quickly enough to meet your business needs.

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, I want to share an astonishing fact. Only 30% of a successful launch depends on the quality of the product. The other 70% depends on the quality of its promotion!

So you have the next big channel…

Your logo is spot on, you have a strong sense of your ‘voice’, and you have the perfect niche. What is the next step? Well, allow me to lay out the three main objectives of all marketing plans. Yes, only three. This might be easier than you thought…

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Here are your 3 basic objectives of marketing:

1.) Build Awareness– Let people know there’s a new channel out there!

2.) Get them interested-be as clever or straightforward as you like as long as it resonates with your channel brand.

3.) Create desire that results in action– in this case, your mission is to get them to watch your channel.

So now you are armed with your three main objectives. Time to get promoting. We have already decided that it would be a poor choice to just wait for your audience to show up. Instead, we are going to start at the top of our objectives and work our way down. How you do this is far less rigid than a bullet list. A lot of it is going to depend on your brand and budget. Here are a few ways you could start with building awareness:

Money-wise marketing strategies. 

If you are well funded, you will probably choose to go with the first couple of options on this list. The time you will save and just how effective they are, well, really have no comparison. That said, you will still want to be conscious of how you spend. Experience has taught us that you can reach a point of diminishing returns at no fault of your own. The point here is, there is generally a sweet spot. Furthermore, you will need to be proactive in looking for it. 

Targeted advertising. 

Facebook and other platforms with an ad program can be quite valuable. The ads you can create on these platforms could fulfill all three of your objectives sometimes. They will definitely fulfill the first one. And set you up for the second one.

Here is how: Create an ad with a simple call to action. Something like “Launching our new channel, subscribe for a FREE month”. The point is to acquire an email by trading something of value. People will become aware of your brand through these ads, plus, you can start to target those individuals most likely to become loyal viewers. Those are the ones who were interested enough to give you their email.

Roku is there for you! 

And with a native ad platform available to all of its channel owners. Roku takes its platform seriously, believing deeply in its responsibility to channel owners and end-users. Roku aims to make the channel-owning process as streamlined as possible, so you can focus on delivering content. One way they do this is through tools like ‘Publisher Solutions’. This tool is for channel owners to promote their brands. Working with Roku has its inherent bonuses.

A channel marketing platform.  

If you have a budget that would allow it, outsourcing this portion of channel labor could pay in dividends. Sometimes, it’s just best to leave it to the professionals. There are numerous services out there that will get your name out there. A few will even really tailor your message according to your brand. Quite Important in my book. Do you remember the old Sprite commercials? “Image is Everything!”

Street-wise marketing strategies. 

If you’re missing a decent budget, don’t fret. Going guerrilla to promote your Roku app could be your ticket. Just be prepared to trade time for your lack of funds. 

Got Followers? 

If you have a following on social media, it makes sense to start here. If you don’t but know someone who does, that is still second best. Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, or ‘fill in social media blank’, are perfect for posting channel updates, teasers, and trailers. Even YouTube can fill this role. Consistently promoting your Roku content can help keep you established and significant if done right.

Cross-Over! 

One great technique you should network into your plan is a channel fusion opportunity. Do you remember the social part of social media? Well, you are going to have to incorporate this part now. Your goal here is to find current channels or media with a similar audience as the one you’re targeting. Then let that channel owner or producer know about your channel and offer them something of value.

It could be a fiscal or a social benefit you might offer them, for instance. In exchange, they could offer you a channel a shout-out, host some of your channel trailers or play your splash screen in between some videos in their playlist. Some might even be willing to have you on one of their shows to talk about your channel. 

Go Hang Out- 

Or you can get real social for outstanding results. You will have to visit, sign up, and chat it up with these communities, but networking is an integral part of the business. You might even find a friend. By building real relationships on forums and within online communities of similar interests to your brand, you will be building a customer of the highest valued type. A loyal one. Direct communication has unparalleled effectiveness. One of the reasons door-to-door sales are so effective.

And The Oh-So-Obvious- 

You should have a website. For anyone doing business, a website is a staple. For anyone streaming media through the net, a website is all but required. The ability to interact and respond through a website is critical in the modern age. If someone is looking for information, the first stop will be that company or organization’s website. Now with that out of the way, you can also leverage this location to promote your shows and upcoming events. You can even set up a place for your fans to connect and chat if you wanted to.

Now you can get the audience, get the channel! Join us in a live demo here!

In summary…

You will need to figure out how to get your channel out there. I, for one, have never watched a channel I did not know existed. Kind of obvious, I know. But you need viewers, and they need to know you exist. It is going to cost a bit of time and/or money. Just remember, this is an investment. But then again, isn’t all business.

Garrett Cunningham

Disney+’s Fast Growth Secret? Exposed Here!


Learn the Mouse House Tactics!

I remember when you only had three choices for streaming. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Streaming to your TV was also an enthusiasts entertainment. The majority still used their TV for linear programing or DVD/BlueRay. Sure, the internet of your computer was now mobile. But, it had not translated into many connecting their TV.

That has all changed, of course. The cord-cutting revolution is in full swing, and in the past two years, multiple streaming services have hit the screen. The market is feeling a little crowded while your pocketbook probably seems a tad roomy. As a matter of fact, many are spending close to $50 a month on these services. Compare that to the $10 or so dollars we spent on our service of choice just a few years ago.

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It was not like we want to spend more on streaming.

Many of us made the switch precisely because of cable’s outrageous costs. So we balance the offerings as they come. What I want to look at is how new channels entering the crowd are finding success.

Disney’s ability to sway new users has been impressive, especially since being one of the most recent services to launch. Hulu in and of itself, is a great service, don’t get me wrong. They have stood the test of time, 13 years to be exact. Yet they only accumulated a rough 25 million subscribers in that period. Then Disney took over and that feeble number doubled. In just 5 months!

As an aside, streaming is still a young technology. A bit over a decade, but its adoption is taking hold. The point is, we have not come close to market saturation, so when I talk about market share, keep this in mind.

Did Disney know something Hulu didn’t? Obviously. So let’s dig a little deeper.

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I realize that Disney has a huge advertising budget. And they have a name known all around the world. This does not guarantee success though. Just look at Quibi. It shut down just six months after launching. And not because they didn’t have the budget. Quibi had raised about $1.75 billion, far more than one would actually need to succeed. There were many high-profile investors with names of their own too, including Disney. Their intention was to revolutionize how people consume entertainment. Instead, they faded into obscurity.

So why has Disney plus been so successful?

Niche content. Many had believed that their focus on G & PG-rated films would alienate the adults in the audience. It turns out that focusing on family entertainment was exactly the selling point they needed. A general content provider would be a tough sell as Netflix already does general content better than anyone.

It is also easier for Disney+ to be the default option with a house full of children. And as someone who has had to shelter in place with his family, you won’t need to be concerned about what could be seen by curious eyes.

Turns out, though, being a bit different from the other streaming services was an advantage. Disney+ knew the important niche content. Every general entertainment service that isn’t Netflix is always going to be the second fiddle. But by limiting itself to Disney-branded programming, Disney+ now owns the Family category. That has proven to be a powerful offer to consumers around the globe. In large part, due to the pandemic.

The global video streaming market is expected to reach $102.0971 billion in value by 2023.

That is double the estimated value of streaming last year. Innovations, such as blockchain tech and artificial intelligence are improving this market even further. AI is playing an essential role in all aspects of video production and upload. Various video streaming solution providers use AI to improve the content quality of videos.

While TheWrap shows Netflix holding 20% of the U.S. streaming market, its lead is shrinking. Falling from 29% — a drop of nearly one-third– as more services enter the market. Compare that to Disney+ who has gone from 0 to over 11% in the same year.

We can confidently say that Disney+’s late entry was offset by their ability to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market. Niche content has set them apart, and the numbers are there to back up their success.

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Now take a look at who your competition is. Can you see what sets you apart? What are you offering that’s better or more unique than what is already out there? Figure that out and your success will increase a thousandfold!

Garrett Cunningham

An Experts Perspective on TV’s Near Future


The TV market is highly dynamic.

As consumer habits and expectations rapidly change, so does technology, effectively changing the consumer’s usage and demands yet again. Up-and-coming additional products and services that utilize this ever-advancing tech disrupt the landscape further.

We observe the technological march of progress race onwards, and the media world transform. Again and again. Entire industries have had to change, and the disruption is likely to continue. If I use the past 10yrs as my basis, my predictions for the next ten would be too moderate. No, I predict the near-future of TV, say by 2030, will have changed as much as we have seen over the past 20-30 years.

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It took 50 years for the TV to become commonplace. Another 30 to expand from a handful of constant channels to more than 500. Then, only 15 years to see streaming VOD content overtake linear television. The way we watch TV, how its monetized, and who produces it has transformed drastically. And it seems as though we are just getting started.

It’s Epidemic!

All of this change has just intensified with the not-so-recent uptake in home life. Shelter in place, as they say. What choice did we have but to live within the lives found on TV? We certainly were not living our own.

So we fueled the fire. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, Disney+, and a seemingly unending number of digital channels saw growth. CTV is an industry disruptor, and that’s even when left alone. But then, there was one of the largest captive audiences ever available, all for an extended time. The media industries in every area competitively heated up.

Add in the break-neck pace of technological change, and the landscape rolled like an ocean. It might be too bold to predict the future of television. Or foolish, but as an industry insider of 25 plus years, I’m confident in the following. Pay attention as many of these predictions should be carefully considered by anyone in the video field.

Cable TV, as we knew it, is over. They have no choice but to unbundle their package “deals” as the competition from VOD suppliers essentially allows viewers to pay for only what they watch.

Traditional advertising models are going the way of the dinosaur. Media companies will shift to subscription-supported models while super aggregators will handle advertising.

What’s a Cable Package?

Few industries have had to figure out how to reinvent themselves as severely as the cable TV industry. Traditionally, their delivery model was reasonably straightforward. A featured lineup of popular channels, bundled with many not-so-popular channels, packaged for purchase. The more channels in a package, the higher the purchase price. If a customer wanted a specific channel, they’d have to purchase a bundle that included it. And more often than not, that desired channel was bundled in a higher-priced package. 90% of the remaining channels in the lot would never grace your TV set.

I realize this sounds outrageous to the younger adults who pay for entertainment, but there wasn’t an alternative. Not if you wanted to watch that programming. The logic proposed was that bundling channels gave consumers a combined package that costs less than purchasing each channel separately.

This boat doesn’t float in today’s age. And the cable providers know it. Now they are moving to an a la carte approach using the same technology as their competitors- the internet. Plus, to further boost their revenue, many cable providers are providing internet service. It makes sense, as they already have the infrastructure in place. Cable will soon return to its roots, providing for a niche market of people, just like it began around the 1950s.

Money On TV…

The advertising world seems just as turbulent. In all fairness, the internet is to blame for this. The attainable data through the internet, specifically. The data has provided a significant advantage, enabling ad agencies to pair commercials to ideal target viewers.

Referred to as the Demand Side Platform, or DPS, this resource has empowered agencies to target their ad power directly to the people who would be the most interested in that ad. The market majority is held by Google although I implore you to keep an eye out on The Trading Desk. In addition to these, some platforms like Amazon, maintain their own DPS but this has both advantages and disadvantages.

Now that advertisers can target so well, they have essentially been able to corner the TV market. So what’s a channel to do? In short, build a different model for profits. We already see many of the big cable channels merge and then create subscription services. I propose that the bulk of channels will be supported in this way soon.

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Crystal Clear…

Screen technology. We are going to see significant improvements to an already well-developed product. Whether you are talking about resolution or the technology behind the pixels, it doesn’t matter because, in ten years, both will change drastically.

HDR-capable TVs. Because who doesn’t want more amazing colors? But, to display all those beautiful colors, the screen needs to be 10 times brighter than most of your TVs at home right now. To answer the call, we have some amazing lighting technologies in the pipeline. OLED is capable of the deepest blacks due to each individual pixel being able to turn off completely. But LED systems are wining the HDR race due to their superior brightness.

TV Resolution has been a point of contention from the onset. Growing from a measly 40 lines to our modern standard of 1920 x 1080 pixels. And the growth is not over yet. Ultra HD will soon be the dominant player. On the other hand, growth is not unlimited. There will be a point of diminishing returns. Many even believe that 8k will be the edge of that precipice. Why? Because 8k offers roughly the same resolution as that of our natural eyesight.

Interactivity!

Finally, I recognize that VR and 3d films have not taken off the way we might have intended. They have also enjoyed not one, but two introductions. I propose that while visionary, the technology for these inventions we’re not able to support them. Even today can not compare to the abilities we will have in just a few more years.

The improvements do not stop with the tech inside. Just as important to VR’s success is the format. Nobody, no matter how dedicated, is going to spend their 4-6 hours per day of viewing with a bulky headset. Manufacturers recognize this and we will see much lighter, better fitting form factors in the coming years. Better hand and eye-tracking will be included in these designs, as well. I even know of full-body haptic suits that are coming over the horizon.

The Takeaway

There is no way to create an accurate and exhaustive list of future technologies. There are just too many unknown variables. I have presented the ones that I am confident in and that will affect the widest range of people involved in the TV industry.

  • If you are a member of the old guard, that is, someone coming from the linear TV world, you now know the classic TV packages will go extinct. Many have even started their own OTT services.
  • If you work in advertising or the DPS, then there are only a few names to be aware of. Google, The Trading Desk, Amazon, and Roku. The rest have short life spans. Because of this, most channels have started monetizing with subscription services.
  • And if you are a producer you have a couple of things to keep in mind. First off, TVs are becoming crystal clear. Make sure your camera and lighting are spot-on in order to stay competitive. And do not neglect to up your gear to meet the again-changing resolutions. Second, you might consider creating VR or 3D-based content. If you get started early, the competition will be scarce. If you jump on after everyone else, you will be facing an uphill battle.

When the year 2030 arrives, you can tell me how great my fortune-telling powers are (or aren’t). It is going to be exciting and I hope you have walked away with some food for thought. This information is meant to help guide your decisions so you can stay around for the long haul. Your success is my success!

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Garrett Cunningham

Roku’s Stock Reveals Their Exciting Future


Seeing into the Future…

When Roku went public in 2017, it was at a modest $14 a share. Four years later and that share price jumped to a staggering $420. That is a gain of 235% per year! What does it all mean? Well, let us dive into some of Roku’s market trends. We might be able to discern the future.

Last quarter, Roku celebrated its highest growth rate since its public debut. Its market share growth is due to smart company choices. A few of which we will attempt to highlight. The rewards we see on Wallstreet will only amplify Roku’s position, too. You won’t need to be a trader to see how this affects the future of streaming.

Despite the success, some claim concern over the long-term plan of Roku. Much of this is due to numerous rivals entering the market. I want to elaborate on why those concerns might not be all that concerning.

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We’ve seen this before…

I believe the early days of Microsoft are parallel to Roku today. After all, we are talking about operating systems. Computer and TV respectively. If Roku plays their cards right, they will dominate the TV operating system arena.

In the U.S. and Canada, Roku TVs outsold any other pre-installed smart TV operating system last year. They beat all of the manufacturers, including those with their own operating systems. Companies like Vizio and LG. Even Samsung, who has been leading in this field, until now. Roku’s lead is the first in history, but it does not seem to be the last.

Roku claims its streaming O.S. is on 38% of the U.S. smart TVs. Their claim also boasts a similar percentage of the Canadian market. Even with competition from manufacturers and big tech companies like Amazon, the market is moving toward consolidation. And guess who’s sitting in the position of the de facto TV OS? It is Roku.

Why?

The reason so many smartphone manufacturers license operating systems is simple. It is more cost-effective than building their own. TV manufacturers are coming to the same realization.

Television operating systems are not as complex as those of smartphones, granted. But there are other challenges. For instance, television hardware has significant constraints compared to smartphones. The workarounds and programing wizardry required to squeeze the most out of this limited format should not be taken lightly.

Companies with a smaller share of the market can not justify the cost of maintaining their own operating system. Licensing an OS like Roku is a more economical solution.

As a result, more manufacturers are opting to license Roku. Roku, in turn, continues to add partners to its portfolio. In time, Roku is even likely to flip the large manufacturers.

Steve Louden, Roku CFO, is confident that the market is moving toward one main TV OS. There might be one or two alternatives, and this makes sense. We see the same thing with computer and smartphone operating systems. But Roku is firmly leading this race into the future. A future of a mostly singular TV OS. All signs point to Roku remaining there, too.

Manufacturer loyalty is needed-

Another area of concern voiced by investors is the Roku manufacturing partners. Some have started partnering with Roku competitors, looking to save a buck. Here are two solutions that can prevent this behavior.

For starters, Roku needs to provide more opportunities to increase sales. By working with retailers to gain prime shelf space, it can afford to spend more on marketing. This is because of its strong monetization. It generated $27 per user over four quarters, and half of that period saw a notable pullback in ad spend. As that number increases, Roku can put more money behind its marketing and retail partnerships. All resulting in more beneficial deals for the manufacturers.

Plus, retailers are more hesitant to partner with Amazon due to the direct competition of Amazon’s core business.

Second, Roku will build loyalty as it develops more support in international markets. This is an area Amazon has excelled at for years. The main pain point here is that the Roku TV tuner technology is developed in-house. Tuner requirements also vary from region to region. This takes more time than using an off-the-shelf solution.

Additionally, some countries have additional requirements. Closed-captioning support in the United States, for instance. Because of this, introducing Roku TV into some international markets has been slow. A remedy is in motion, though. Significant international investments have been made over the last couple of years. As the Roku global presence will continue to improve, this dilemma is only a temporary one.

As Roku supports its licensed operating system in more countries, it will win back more from manufacturers. Manufacturers find it more cost-effective to focus exclusively on one operating system anyhow. As long as Roku can provide its OS in every country the manufacturer wants to sell. And the Roku sales record/support put it in the position to do just that.

Owning the television has its advantages…

Roku’s growing share of the smart TV market is also critical. More so than Roku devices that plug into existing TV sets. Monetization is more straightforward for Roku TV users than its device users. A Roku TV will always start up on the Roku home screen. Other TVs will load the last channel or input you left when you turned it off. That means more opportunities to engage users and show ads.

Second, owning the entire TV experience provides additional data points. Data that is not available with the Roku after-market devices. For example, Roku uses audio content recognition in its TVs to determine what shows, movies, and commercials users watch. Both on Roku, and any linear TV the user watches on the set. Local broadcasts and attached cable systems included. That data is valuable for its ad business and content recommendations.

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Being #1

Of course, not much stands in the way of a consumer buying a Roku or smart TV, then adding other devices. Either from Amazon or some other tech company. Still, being the default option has unparalleled value. A title Roku can claim now. Low switching costs will not diminish that. So Roku will add high-value accounts simply by being baked into so many TVs.

Roku will see its share of the smart TV market grow as they expand support internationally. Plus, fewer competitors are finding it economical to maintain their own operating systems. Combined with the above, Roku’s ad system factors into building a positive feedback loop. More ad revenue, more TVs. More TVs, more ad revenue, and so on.

Investors voiced reasonable concerns, but they were concerns Roku had begun addressing years ago. The fruits are coming to bear, so to speak. Every other company, from this vantage point, is just too little, too late.

Garrett Cunningham
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