With the pandemic dramatically accelerating the importance of streaming, Roku has emerged as the leading platform, with 46 million active accounts in Q3 2020, up 43% from a year earlier and triple the 15.1 million accounts at the end of Q2 in 2017. By way of comparison, Roku’s active account base was now more than double Comcast’s 20 million residential and business video subscribers in Q3 2020.
That has made Cittadine, who oversees Roku’s content strategy, acquisition and partner channel development, a powerful force in the TV and movie business.
Cittadine came to Roku with a resumé that includes an MBA from Georgetown University, work in corporate banking and expertise in digital media and the movie industry from a 2006 to 2017 stint at 20th Century Fox. In 2017, he joined Roku in his current role, overseeing Roku’s content strategy, acquisition and partner channel development.
A big part of the job, he said, is helping channel providers grow their subscription, advertising and content sales businesses. “When Disney’s ‘Mulan’ launched over Labor Day weekend, more people watched Disney Plus on Roku than all other streaming platforms combined,” he said.
That has helped programmers expand their streaming businesses but it is also crucial for Roku, which takes a cut of those revenues. In Q3 2020, Roku’s Platform business, which includes licensing and advertising, grew by 78% compared to a year earlier.
How those streaming revenues should be divided has also touched off some contentious negotiations with streaming services like HBO Max, which is still not on the Roku platform. The standard distribution agreement publicly available on Roku’s website indicates that it asks for 20% of subscription fees and 30% of ad revenue.
“We believe we have an opportunity to make these new services incredibly successful,” Cittadine explained. “We are the largest streaming platform in the world and we believe that these services need Roku in order to be successful. We are really excited about structuring agreements that will … allow them to create a tremendous amount of value and allow us to share in a fair amount of value. There is a lot at stake.”
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