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New Roku Search Data Helps Marketers Win Streaming Pop Culture

From trending genres to award nominees, Roku Search reveals what’s hot; Plus, Roku unveils the Top 10 movie and series searches for April 2022

Courtesy of Roku
Courtesy of Roku

The post-Academy Award box office bump has now shifted to streaming.

Search data from Roku – America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform by hours streamed – offers a look at how deeply the movie industry’s biggest night can impact viewers’ interest in a film.[1]

The Audience Insights team within Roku Advertising collects a suite of data, which looks at how users search for titles, genres and actor names to see what or who is hot in the moment, as well as if interest has changed over time. For example, during the first quarter of 2022, most active Roku households used the search function, racking up a total of 233.5 million searches – nearly half of which resulted in a selected title being launched on a streaming channel.

Now, the Audience Insights team is sharing streamers’ top searches – both past and present – to help marketers win in the streaming era.

“According to Nielsen, for the first time [in March], TV streaming devices surpassed legacy pay TV devices (set-top box and DVR) in weekly reach in the U.S., with 65% of adults aged 18-49 streaming TV compared to 63% watching legacy pay TV,” says Asaf Davidov, director and head of ad measurement at Roku. “The message to marketers is clear – pop culture now starts with streaming platforms.”

The Academy Award Effect

To showcase the depth of the data, Roku provided Variety with a look at how an Academy Award nomination or victory can influence audiences. Search interest tends to increase as soon as nominations are released and peaks during the award show. Looking at the impact across best picture, director, lead actor and actress, documentary, animated film and international feature film, Roku user searches jumped an average of 212% for nominated titles and talent upon announcement on Feb. 8 compared with the week prior. One week after the March 27 ceremony, search volume for winning titles and talent was seven times higher than it had been the week before nominations were announced – the biggest surge each of those categories had seen in three years.

Several films saw especially large increases:

  • “CODA” – Searches jumped after the film was nominated and, for the most part, continued to climb at a steady pace, soaring 127% after receiving a best picture nod and 19-fold one week after winning when compared to pre-nomination numbers.
  • “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” – The best documentary winner saw an eight-fold increase in search interest compared with the pre-nomination period, and a 234% surge the week after its win.
  • “King Richard” – Searches were already high before the nominations and more than doubled in the week following the show. They were up nearly eight-fold over the entirety of awards season.
  • “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – This film, whose star won best actress, saw one of the biggest bumps, with interest increasing more than six-fold through award season, becoming the fourth most popular search. Interest jumped a further 149% during the week following the show.

Past Winners

Over the past few years, only a handful of films have seen search increases similar to those that “CODA” or “King Richard” achieved, including:

  • “Parasite” – Search interest in 2020’s best picture was already high before nominations were announced, but the film’s surprise win triggered an increase of nearly ten-fold.
  • “American Factory” – 2020’s best documentary was up 11-fold the week after the Academy Awards, compared with pre-nomination levels.
  • “My Octopus Teacher” – Search interest jumped six-fold between pre-awards season and the week following the Academy Awards in 2021 and 127% after the ceremony. After its win, search interest topped that of other films with larger marketing budgets.

The Larger Picture

In addition to nominations, marketing budgets and social media buzz may also impact search interest, with indie films often seeing a bigger jump in search activity on Roku than blockbuster studio films. For example, search interest in “Don’t Look Up” and “Encanto” was lower one week after the 2022 Academy Awards than the week before the nominations, while search interest in “Joker” and “Rocketman” in 2020 fell by roughly 37% during that same period.

So, how might marketers use this data to their advantage? Brands win when they capture what is at the top of consumers’ minds. In a world where all TV will be streamed, Roku believes marketers will have a better shot at moving quickly to own the moment with the latest insights at their fingertips. It’s also true that major movie tentpoles still exist; marketers just need to surround these tentpoles on platforms where audiences can explore more deeply.

“We’re thrilled to help marketers accelerate their shift to TV streaming with insights that only we can provide,” says Davidov.

Beyond providing a data-rich look at the impact of the Academy Award, Roku is also releasing its monthly Top 10 searches for the first time. And in April, a few trends stood out.

The online premiere of the hugely popular “Spider-Man: No Way Home” spiked interest in both that title and older films in the franchise, including 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” (Interest was so high, in fact, that there was even a rise in interest in previous films from the “Spider-Man” series.)

There was also a seasonal surge for Christian programming around the Easter holiday, with “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chosen,” a dramatic series about the life of Jesus Christ, both ranking highly. And family films saw a rise in interest in April, with “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Sing 2″ leading the pack.

April’s Top 10 Searches on Roku

  1. “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
  2. “Sonic the Hedgehog”
  3. “Sing 2”
  4. “Yellowstone”
  5. “SpongeBob SquarePants”
  6. “The Passion of the Christ”
  7. “The Batman”
  8. “The Chosen”
  9. “Better Call Saul”
  10. “Spider-Man: Far From Home”


Footnote: Roku defines Roku Search as an event occurring on a Roku device or TV, where a user queries a title, person or content hub/zone on the platform and then selects one of the results to stream. With all entertainment choices appearing in one place, Roku Search makes it easy for viewers to find exactly what they want to watch. Roku Search is available in English in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Roku Search is also available in Spanish in Mexico and the United States. Channels included in search results may vary by region. View Roku search partners for a list of the channels included by region.

[1] America’s #1 TV streaming platform claim is based on hours streamed (Hypothesis Group, October 2021).