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Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues.

Roku executives have been hinting at plans to expand internationally for some time. Earlier this month, the company inadvertently spelled out its plans to enter Brazil in multiple job listings, which stated that it was looking to hire people to create “the most exciting and widely appealing content for Roku consumers in Brazil – a vibrant, growing OTT market.”

Asked about its plans for the country, a spokesperson stopped short of committing to an imminent launch, saying: “As a global company we are constantly assessing different countries that could offer new opportunities to fuel our growth. We see great potential in the streaming market in Brazil.”

In its job postings, the company said that hires would be tasked with striking deals with local broadcasters and online video services. The goal of these efforts, according to the job offers, was to ensure “that a family in San Paulo or Rio can enjoy the best and widest selection of content for their Friday night entertainment” with Roku’s help.

Roku currently sells most of its streaming devices in North America, and also has a smaller presence in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Mexico and a number of Latin American countries. TV manufacturers that license Roku’s smart TV operating system sell their displays in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In addition, the company has partnerships with operators to power white-labeled streaming devices in select European countries.

Roku generated more than 90% of its revenue in the United States in 2018, according to regulatory filings. The company has been hiring a number of employees to accelerate international growth in recent months. These hires include former Verizon Media executive Tariq Mahmoud, who joined Roku in February to lead its advertising business outside of the United States.

The company has also been hiring staffers in its Amsterdam office to further expand into Europe, with one industry source telling Variety that this could happen before the end of the year.

That timeline matches public comments from Roku CEO Anthony Wood, who told investors earlier this year that international expansion was one of the areas of focus for 2019. “While we continue to see a lot of headroom to grow active accounts in the U.S., we are increasing our investment internationally,” Wood said in February.

Roku’s chief financial officer Steve Louden told Variety in February that the company would likely accelerate account growth abroad in 2020, with international revenue growth following course. “You need to build up scale before you can ramp up monetization,” he said.

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