Roku, helped again by stay-at-home streaming during the coronavirus pandemic, topped Wall Street earnings estimates for the second quarter of 2020 and saw streaming hours skyrocket a whopping 65% year over year.
Roku added 3.2 million incremental active accounts in Q2 to reach 43 million (up 41% year over year), while streaming hours increased by 2.3 billion hours over last quarter to 14.6 billion. Streaming hours peaked in mid-Q2 but has remained higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to the company.
“Roku and our partners also saw a surge in growth for AVOD, SVOD and TVOD services during the quarter,” CEO Anthony Wood and CFO Steve Louden wrote in their Q2 letter to shareholders. “As economic pressures caused advertisers to further reevaluate how much and where to invest media dollars, Roku delivered strong growth in our ad business, particularly relative to the overall TV ad market that was down.”
In their prepared remarks, the Roku execs didn’t address the current standstill in negotiations with WarnerMedia for HBO Max and NBCUniversal for Peacock. HBO Max has been unavailable on Roku’s platform since the May 27 launch, as has Peacock since its July 15 national debut.
Wood, asked on the earnings call about the HBO Max and Peacock talks, declined to comment specifically. “In general, you know, when it comes to content, we want to add all the content we can to our platform,” he said. He said Roku is “often not always first” to add a streaming service: “It’s important to us that we establish win-win-win economic relationships… It’s what allows us to invest in innovation and bring low-cost devices to consumers.”
Wood added that Disney Plus is a “good example” of a partnership Roku believes works for all parties. He cited data from Comscore finding that Roku was the No. 1 connected device based on hours streamed for Disney Plus during the week following the release of “Hamilton,” and pointed out Disney just announced they had topped 100 million direct-to-consumer accounts worldwide. “We want to do more of these kinds of deals,” Wood said.
Roku total net revenue grew 42% year over year to $356.1 million, with Platform segment revenue — which comprises advertising sales and subscription revenue — climbed 46%. Roku posted a net loss of $43.15 million, or 35 cents per share, beating analyst forecasts.
Wall Street analysts had expected Roku’s Q2 revenue to come in at $315.43 million with a net loss of 50 cents per share, per Refinitiv.
Roku said movie and TV rentals and purchases hit an all-time high in Q2, calling out direct-to-streaming movie releases like “Scoob” and “Trolls World Tour” that skipped theaters to premiere online. That increased activity also more than doubled year-over-year subscriptions through Roku Pay, the company’s integrated billing platform.
The Roku execs said that while the advertising industry’s outlook overall “remains uncertain” in the back half of 2020, “we remain confident in our ability to grow our ad business, albeit not as much as we would have expected prior to the pandemic.” The company expects total overall revenue will grow “substantially” in the second half of the year (and for full-year 2020) but lower than its prior guidance. Prior to the pandemic’s outbreak in the U.S., Roku in February issued an outlook for full-year 2020 targeting 42% annual revenue growth, a net loss of $160 million-$180 million and EBITDA of “roughly break-even.”
In Q2, Roku’s Player unit sales were up 28% year-over-year — and segment sales grew 35%, to $111.3 million — “led by strong growth in the U.S.” and in certain international markets.
The company said since its Q1 earnings call in May, it raised approximately $350 million in additional equity capital, to end Q2 with $887 million of cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash and short-term
Roku also announced that Louden, whom the company said in December was going to step down as CFO, is remaining its chief financial officer. “Steve has proven that he is more than capable of performing the CFO role while residing in Seattle. Hence, we are delighted that Steve will be staying on as Roku’s CFO and we have ended the search for his successor,” Roku said.
Meanwhile, Roku restated total streaming hours it has reported from February 2016 to March 2020, after it discovered an error in its central database that caused some user “pause” time to inaccurately be included in the streaming hours recorded. After adjusting for logging errors, the company estimated that streaming hours were on average roughly 0.5% lower than previously reported for the period January 2017-September 2018 and about 5.8% lower for the period October 2018 through March 2020. For example, Roku’s revised streaming-hours total for the first three months of 2020 was 12.3 billion, 7% lower than the previously reported 13.2 billion.