Roku: It’s Not About Owning More of Our Own Programming

This Old House Roku The Roku Channel
(Image credit: This Old House)

If Roku has designs on diving into the big-ticket original content game, Rob Holmes, Roku’s VP of programming, isn’t letting on.

After Roku bought the rights to This Old House and the studio that produces it, Holmes said “it's not really about that we want to own more and produce more of our own” shows for The Roku Channel.

Roku’s acquisition of The Old House and its companion Ask This Old House, two popular long-running series, follows the streaming platform launching its first exclusive show, the thriller Cypher

Last year, Roku acquired rights to programming from Quibi, the short-lived short-form subscription service that poured hundreds of millions into its series but failed to attract subscribers.

It also followed reports that Roku was looking to hire executives to manage original programming.

All of those breadcrumbs seem to lead to the notion that like cable networks and streaming services before it, that eventually Roku would want to have its own original shows.

But Holmes said that The Roku Channel is a free, ad-supported streaming service, or AVOD, network and that makes it different from subscription-based SVOD services that don't carry ads, like Disney Plus and HBO Max.

“AVOD is free, so if you’re a consumer, you’re not thinking about how much does this cost? Am I going to remember to cancel? How much am I subscribing to already? You really are just thinking: ‘Am I going to watch this,’ ” he said.

“We think AVOD content can be successful without necessarily being exclusive,” Holmes added. “SVOD craves exclusivity. You want that expensive, premium show that prompts people to find you service and subscribe to it and then stay month to month. So you sort of need that content.”

AVOD content is also different because it's a good idea to stick with advertiser friendly genres, Holmes said, noting that This Old House has GMC and The Home Depot as long-term sponsors.

As the owner of This Old House, Roku plans to continue having it run first on PBS, then stream on Roku. It will also continue to appear on Discovery’s cable networks.

“It’s a great brand and engages consumers wherever they are and it makes it more relevant for advertisers,” Holmes said.

Roku could also make new spinoffs of This Old House. “It’s absolutely an opportunity,” he said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.