Roku, NBCUniversal In Stalemate Over Carriage Of App Platforms, Advertising Share

Roku, the digital platform for streaming TV and video apps, is engaged in an intense disagreement with NBCUniversal over carriage negotiations of NBC app platforms -- with advertising share a major point of contention.

Roku has been looking to dramatically increase its share of advertising beyond existing deals among 46 different NBC apps, securing advertising inventory on NBC's new streaming service Peacock, getting Comcast’s NBCU programming content for its own purposes, and using ad technology to grab NBC app data for its own internal use, according to executives speaking to Television News Daily.

The Roku platform, one of the biggest streaming TV platforms for thousands of apps, reaches some 43 million monthly active U.S. users.

Currently, Roku sells an undetermined amount of advertising inventory impressions on NBC apps. Typically, executives say, Roku can secure a high share of advertising from app publishers -- 30% of hourly advertising inventory for it to sell.



NBC had been offering its apps to consumers for free through Roku. This includes 11 network apps, 12 NBC owned-station apps, and 23 Telemundo-owned station apps.

“At a time when Americans need free content, Roku has made the extremely unfortunate decision to remove NBCUniversal's leading content from their platform,” according to a NBC statement.

“Roku’s unreasonable demands ultimately hurt both their consumers and their consumer equipment partners to whom they've promised access to all apps in the marketplace.

According to an NBC spokesperson, Roku says it has blocked access to NBC’s new, free premium streaming service, Peacock.

In response, a Roku spokesperson says: “Comcast plans to revoke consumers’ access to NBC TV Everywhere channels on the Roku platform by making Roku delete these channels on / or as early as September 18, 2020... Comcast is removing the channels in order to try to force Roku to distribute its new Peacock service on unreasonable terms.”

The spokesman goes on to say: “Comcast has declined our extension offer and so far has also refused fair and equitable business terms for the distribution of Peacock -- despite the fact that they stand to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue from its distribution on the Roku platform.”

In addition, Roku says: “While the NBC TV Everywhere apps represent an insignificant amount of streaming hours and revenue on our platform, we believe they are important to those consumer who use them.” It adds: “A number of whom are Comcast customers, have paid to access these channels via their cable TV subscriptions and now cannot view this content on Roku, their platform of choice.”

According to MoffettNathanson Research, Roku will pull in $566 million in video advertising dollars in 2020, rising to $902 million in 2021.

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