Why Roku’s Big Reversal on Ads?


It’s no secret, video content is the most prolific type of internet data transferred today!

Long gone are the days of not having anything to watch. Take YouTube for instance. Every day, more content is uploaded to that one site than the total content created by the TV networks in their first 40 years of service. With all of this fresh video content, we also see numerous ways to monetize it. Pay per View, subscriptions, crowd-funded, etc. Of course, the most popular way for the majority to bankroll their video productions has been through advertising.

An area that the inventor of Roku has seemingly stood against.

Well, until recently, that is. Why the change? Read on…

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We have seen the Internet TV hardware races heat up and we’ve seen them simmer down. In the lead, the entire time has been Roku, and that is not by accident. Since its launch in 2008, this has easily been the preferred way of connecting one’s TV to the internet.

This story of success comes down to the insight of one man. Anthony Wood. I do not believe it to be hyperbole to call him a visionary. He was an inventor of the original DVR, and from this, he cemented his understanding of supplying video content when the viewer wanted it.

Wood knew what was coming around the corner. Our lives have become increasingly full, and as such, it was necessary for people to watch their shows when their schedule permitted, not according to the notions of the network. The strength behind this novel approach lies in consuming video content that you were otherwise going to miss. Instead, you are guaranteeing yourself the ability to watch what you wanted, rather than just letting it fall by the wayside.

But Wood was not content to stop there…

A few short years after the DVR’s debut in 1999, Anthony cold-called the owners at Netflix. Wood must have made a name for himself as Hastings accepted without batting an eyelash. He figured that the television was where people wanted to watch their content but people were limited to their laptops and phones for all the videos that had captured their attention. Netflix loved the idea…as long as Wood agreed to become an employee. Netflix had been spitballing a similar notion before the meet-up though they never pursued it. And now Anthony Wood was standing right in front of them.

Then YouTube made its techno splash!

Oh, what a splash it was! In 2005, YouTube hit the net with incredible success. The big guys like Amazon & Netflix took note. So much so, they decided that they would be just fine as a streaming service too. Why create the hardware when everyone was just going to be on their computers anyway. Anthony Wood disagreed. This is why I call Wood a visionary. Even when some of the top names in the industry were becoming naysayers, he knew different.

This doesn’t mean the past couple of calendars work was for not. Netflix figured they weren’t in the market for both a hardware and a streaming division, and so they cut the hardware. Officially anyhow. They actually backed Wood & the “Netflix now turned Roku device” because they still knew there was a market in living room TV entertainment. The stats show that individuals consume more content from the comfort of their couch vs. the loneliness of the office chair.

So Netflix became the #1 investor of the Roku device.

As an aside, Anthony wasn’t the most successful of gentlemen at this point. His DVR company, Replay TV, was sorely miss-calculated on two fronts. First, it was way too expensive. Double the cost of its competitors DVR, TiVo. Second, Wood had built a very convenient feature into his DVR. The ability to skip the commercials between the show just recorded. This nifty ability ended up getting the company sued by numerous TV networks. The networks claimed that the device injured their ability to sustain this public service since the networks were supported by Ad revenue. This lawsuit was the fatal blow for Replay TV.

This is just one of many public examples of Wood lacking affinity for advertising.

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Wood learned from these mistakes, as seen with the first Roku device launched in 2008. Its shelf price was at just under 100 bucks. More importantly, Wood learned something of even greater value. The advertisers were not the enemy. So he decided to further incorporate advertising into his business model. This year, Roku leveraged advertising to the tune of 3xs that of the revenue made from its hardware division. Plus, advertising in the digital sphere is going to quadruple in spending over the following decade.

Roku has learned the benefits of working with others within the industry instead of despite them. So much so, they have positioned themselves as the advertisers they once bucked.

You, too, will be able to take advantage of this massive influx of Ad revenue.

There are a couple of elementary requirements you must first meet. The in-depth channel plan we showed you in our recent blog post can help with these. If advertising is your business model, you will be able to succeed following the steps we layout there.

You will need to put in the work when it comes to promoting your channel. Advertisers are just not that interested in showing ads to a few of your die-hard fans or friends. The starting requirement is that you have ten thousand installs of your channel onto your audience’s Roku devices. That number is not as lofty as it might sound. Generally, with the proper promotion and a decent channel, this is obtained in about 3-4 months. You will also need about a thousand or more ad requests per day. Since one viewer can generate up to eight requests an hour, this is also easily obtainable.

The takeaway here is that this can only work if you let people know. Some of this will come organically, sure, but you will definitely need to let your target audience know that your channel exists to get the rest of them.

Anthony Wood understands if you have a distaste for ads. As a matter of fact, most do. In the days when cable ruled, commercials were often spited in everyday conversation. Yet, the commercials just kept coming. Why? Because they got results. And they still do, so regardless of your personal taste, take a page out of Anthony Woods’s playbook. If you are looking for more revenue from your network, take a look at advertising.

You are ready to start your TV channel! Join a live demo today!

Garrett Cunningham

How live streaming is your next big thing!


Roku made a huge announcement the day before yesterday!!!

I am going to give you a quick update on all that has transpired with Roku recently before getting into the meat and potatoes of this post, so read on…

Roku is releasing updates to both its hardware and software, yet the word “update” is a bit of an understatement. They have added or updated a slue of features and improved a number of hardware components. They expect a complete rollout of the new devices to all retail locations by October while the new 10.5 OS is available now. That is important as they will have a full stock of these blazing devices for sale by the time the holiday shopping begins. Nice, right!?!

It has been a turbulent summer for Roku. Investors back and forth speculation on the value of Roku’s stock price, just for example. Amazon’s new entry into the smart TV market is another. But Roku is coming out of this without a scratch.

Granted, we won’t see a true valuation of its stock prices any time soon, due to the majority of Roku’s profitability still lying in the future. That said, a hair shy of 40% annual gains are still easily foreseen for the company. And as for Amazon’s smart TVs, well they just can’t compete with the available Roku TVs on the market. So those going the Amazon TV route will likely be those who have already limited themselves to the Amazon ecosystem.

Already a seasoned live streamer but want on Roku? Join a live demo here!

But with all I could write about with this stellar Roku update, the one thing that stands out for you guys is the emphasis this update has put on live streaming. Just over a year ago, Roku announced a portion of their channel to live and linear TV. They boasted over 100 channels to watch at the time. This seemed like an intriguing move, sure. But within just one year they doubled that number. Now it is not just interesting but a power move.

Without a doubt, live streaming has quickly become a major competitor for screen time.

In the U.S. alone, almost half of the population consumes live-streamed content. Live streaming video on Facebook has more than quadrupled in 2018 alone. Remember, streaming video makes up 80% of all internet traffic and we are not just talking about general entertainment.

Business and marketing experts have taken notice. It is now one of the most powerful marketing tools available. Few things can amplify your message and raise brand awareness like live streaming. Why? Because it allows for direct interaction with your audience. It provides an opportunity to build relationships few other techniques can.

Let’s take a deep dive into the benefits of adding live streaming to your arsenal no matter what type of channel you have.

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Instant Access.

Trust me, you want fan engagement. It’s the new buzzword everyone’s talking about. Live streaming is one of the most effective ways to talk directly to your audience. All in real-time. No matter the niche, from news and events to religious broadcasts, live streams put your viewers at the heart of the action. You are providing them the opportunity to get directly involved with your broadcast through live chat, comments, and feedback.

You can really get around.

Live events have historically been limited by their geographical and physical restrictions. Then live streaming came along to change that. The internet makes your live broadcast available to a global audience. Your location and venue size is now earth! At least, the parts of the earth with internet access. Reach anyone, anywhere– they just need internet access and there are over 2 billion web-capable iPhone and Android users alone.

Meet them where they’re at.

Social media platforms have boomed over the past few years. Now they boast audiences running into billions. Facebook’s 1.4 billion daily active users for instance. YouTube, the birthplace of video, has some 1.3 billion users as well. Did you know that TvStartup makes it easy to re-stream to these platforms simultaneously with your Roku channel? If you are going to live stream, you should use this feature!

Live streams can make you money.

Get viewers excited. The immediate nature of live streaming is perfect for this. Then leverage that excitement by facilitating online purchases, fundraisers, or any other actionable responses you might be looking for. Religious organizations are finding online donations are a popular way for the faithful to feel involved while they’re broadcasting. In the fashion world, trendsetting Burberry live-streamed its biannual London Fashion Week show. Then they made the entire collection available for purchase immediately after to a phenomenal response.

No limits.

Live streams aren’t just a great way to generate buzz around your brand, they also enable you to bring your customers right inside your business. So you’re discussing ideas for a new product line or rebrand, set up the cameras, and let your customers respond directly.

Get instant feedback

Sports and newscasters were understandably among the first to see the benefits of live streaming but the corporate world is catching up fast. The fact is, you can capture and stream anything, anywhere. If you’re talking about your product at an event, live stream it! Or give your customers an insight into how you run your business by taking them on a virtual tour of your workplace. Candid, behind-the-scenes broadcasts are very appealing and the growth of reality TV on a multitude of subjects has shown that almost any subject can engage and motivate viewers.

Everyone’s watching!

In the USA alone, the number of digital video viewers is expected to top 232 million in the next couple of years. Half a billion people are already watching videos on Facebook every single day and networking giant Cisco shows that live video accounts for around 15% percent of all video traffic.

Live streaming is one of the most popular forms of online content today. It shows no sign of slowing, rather, it has been growing steadily over the past few years. We don’t blame you for wanting to get in on live streaming! You won’t regret it.

You see live streaming everywhere, probably even having some favorite streamers of your own. But the thought of starting to live stream can be daunting. We have a few tutorials I would like to point you to that will show you just how easy it can be…here, here, and here!

Are you ready to get your channel going? Join a live demo here!

Garrett Cunningham

3 Rules on How to Plan Your TV Network!


You could start in several places, so where should I start planning my TV channel?

After all, there is much to consider. For the sake of simplicity, I will give you the three main areas of focus. Do not worry. Three is enough. At its foundation, it comes down to these elements; programming strategy, user experience, and effective promotion.

Simple right?

What is essential is that you execute well on all three of these categories. Simultaneously, and as a never-ending process. Your programing strategy is all about the content you provide. User experience is all about how the end-user interacts with your brand. Lastly, effective promotion is all about raising awareness and desire within your viewer base. Potential or otherwise.

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To be clear, this plan will be a living process. Each one supports the others. You will need to execute on all three simultaneously. And doing so will be never-ending. By constantly working on each aspect, you will be ahead of the majority. Even some of the big guys!

What you might find surprising is how many mainstream brands fall short on this simple framework. The best content in the world does not negate a thoughtful user experience. Nor does it make up for no one knowing it exists. Likewise, a pristine-looking channel with never-updated content will not get you very far either.

This framework will give you the groundwork for building a successful Over The Top (OTT) TV business today – and also tomorrow.

You need this if you are building plans for an OTT or internet-based TV channel. Or if you currently have one that is not meeting your expectation.

Your business model is not important, be it free, ad-supported, subscription, or transactional. Nor the size of your company or your content library. The basics outlined here are to enable you to maximize the lifetime value of your audience, regardless.

To prepare, you will analyze the following steps: your types and sources of content. You will have to assess the technical base of the company, and compile a list of end-user devices. Plan your content delivery method, determine how to service your monetization approach, and define the requirements for channel design and layout. Finally, you’ll determine the required statistical data and technical support channels you’ll be utilizing.

What do you need to know to develop a detailed TV Plan?

1. Information about the goals and resources of your project: 

  • What are your goals for the project?
  • Is there any experience with such projects on your team?
  • What equipment do you currently have, if any? What do you still need?
  • How is the existing network organized, if at all?
  • Are your employees trained enough to work within your chosen platform(s)?
  • What is the content and its sources?
  • How many subscribers are expected, and at what stages?
  • How fast will your network grow?

Is an upgrade on existing equipment and network configurations necessary?
What kind of access do you have to the content? That can affect the project perspective, timelines, the type of equipment needed, server capacity, and configuration.

2. List which end-user devices your project utilizes. 

Some components include a Web browser, Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, Mobile and the associated apps (which we can take care of as well), Fire TV, or a Smart TV equipped with your platform of choice. The choice of the device affects the development timelines, final project cost, service quality, and viewer base.

3. Define the delivery goals.

  • Will the service be local or global?
  • In a global case, what CDN provider will be used?
  • Could we offer you our help and expertise?

Your chosen CDN affects the integration process with the platform(s) and the roll-out time so we need to nail these down. If you are interested, we take care of all the CDN issues for our clients. And we have gone to great lengths to ensure that you will never be censored.

4. Select your project monetization methods. Some of these could require additional integration but we can handle them all: 

  • Which payment system(s) will you implement to become profitable?
  • How are you prepared to integrate with content providers?
  • What billing system will you be using?
  • Will you implement any advertising platforms? Which ones?

The monetization method(s) and the technical solutions you choose can affect the timeline and the cost of the project as well. We also handle all of these for our clients, depending on the needs of your selection.

6. Define what elements of corporate identity are needed.

This list of requirements affects the bulk of your promotion and the manner in which end-users will interact with your company. Of course, these affect your project time and cost, as well as, the quality of services for end-users.

7. Determine which user behavior data your system will collect or be interested in obtaining.

The software configuration and system setup time depend on the depth and complexity of statistics. We have many stats built right into the dashboard for our clients and build in further functions will google and other systems.

8. Plan technical support for after your project launch.

After the project is deployed, you’ll need to offer technical support. We assign one of our supervisors to your project to walk you through some implementation. We also offer you the ability to plan regular consultations. Our support should stand as a model for your own.

Ready for the next step in creating your network? Hang out w/ us in a live demo here!

What is the timeline for the planning stage?

I have seen it before. Someone ends up in a state of prolonged paralyzation, usually due to one or two of these questions being open. If you find this is your case, start acting on the areas you have confirmed true to overcome this. You will, in time, find the answers to the unknown variables.

Spend no more time than what is necessary. The time you invest in drawing up a detailed plan will be worth it and as a result, you should provide as much information and answer all relevant questions to your best ability. Just make sure to do so as efficiently as possible. Your OTT channel plan is not the end goal. Your network success is. Strive to move beyond this step as quickly as able.

What A Detailed Plan Will Give You-

A prepared channel project plan will save you time and money. As you launch your video service, it will be your road map. Knowing you are on the right path makes it easier to make the right decisions.

Here is why you need a plan now:

  • A road map This will give you the correct direction to head in with marked main steps for platform deployment and launch;
  • An Equipment List of the necessary equipment and its configuration;
  • A Software List of necessary software components that are required to start the project;
  • Your Budget An estimated budget of the project;
  • Instructions for setting up localization for customers;
  • Instructions for working with statistical and analytical services;
  • Terms of reference for:
    • CDN integration
    • billing and payment systems
    • development of UX/UI, applies to applications
    • registration processes and requirements for your subscribers.

Here is why you need a plan in the future:

A prepared TV Project Plan will help for:

  • The ability to compare the project cost with prices provided by other companies; That said, no one offers more for less than TvStartup!
  • Reduces the cost of the project by delegating this work to those available, without delay and with the least investment of time and money;
  • Work out deployment timelines, prepare the required data, and gather resources.

A detailed project plan will help you to launch your channel.

You will be able to evaluate your needs at every stage. Not to mention your resources, project calculation, and a list of technical specifications for your plan.

That said, there is still a bit of work ahead of you. We will be here every step of the way through. There will be nuance involved in building a successful channel and we cover all of them. The OTT or Over The Top ecosystem is in a constant state of flux or change. Never take short-term risks that will limit your long-term benefits.

Make all your decisions with these elements in mind: Programming strategy, User experience, and Effective promotion. Remember that these are living elements. They are always in motion so your approach to them will need to be as well. Each one supports the other. You can not focus on anyone more than the other and when you change dynamics with one, evaluate the others. Follow this guidance and you will do well.

Ready to take action on your channel plan? Join us in a live demo here!

Garrett Cunningham
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