Roku Wants You to Know That Cord-Cutters Are Forever

According to the company's internal research, 92% never return to cable

Roku's Scott Rosenberg at Adweek's Convergent TV summit. Adweek
Headshot of Scott Nover

When you’re counting the business winners of the year in quarantine, don’t forget Roku among the Zooms and TikToks benefitting from seismic shifts in how we live, work and consume media. 

Roku’s stock price has nearly doubled since this time last year, as its users spend more time indoors, adopt new streaming platforms and nix their pricey cable bundles.

When people cut the cord, Roku says they almost never come back, pointing to a survey from the company that found 92% of consumers who left cable TV never planned to go back, Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s svp and gm, platform business, said at Adweek’s Convergent TV summit Wednesday.

Rosenberg, in conversation with Adweek TV editor Jason Lynch, said that they saw users cutting the cord significantly in Q2 and Q3 because of a lack of live sports programming and tighter household budgets due to high U.S. unemployment rates. 

With marketers having cut or paused ad spending this spring at the onset of the pandemic, Rosenberg says he expects that budget to be reallocated toward the end of the year—hopefully, toward the company’s own advertising offerings. 

“Marketers have been very clear about exercising their options to pull money back, especially during Covid, especially in their traditional TV commitments, and all indications are that they’re using that opportunity to actually recommit those dollars elsewhere,” Rosenberg said. While he expects there may be “some snap back to linear,” he thinks a sizable portion of that cash will be directed toward streaming. 

But Roku isn’t fully divorced from the world of linear TV. Its Roku Channel is itself a big bet on the power of live television with about 130 channels—30 of which were added this summer—to provide what streaming cannot, Rosenberg said.

“If you asked me five, seven years ago, ‘how big could linear be,’ I’d have been a bear on it,” Rosenberg said, “but … the ability to jump into programming and have that programming just wash over you—have it be programmed for you—is very powerful.”

“You don’t sit down to watch Season 3, Episode 4 of a cooking show; you sit down to watch a cooking show,” he added, noting that, for those viewers who are transitioning to streaming, these options for live programming can help “sate” their appetite with the programs they may have flipped through on cable.

@ScottNover Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.