Roku is debuting an entertainment show designed to give the company a new bucket of ad inventory to sell, as well as a vehicle to promote streaming content on its platform.
“Roku Recommends” is a 15-minute weekly entertainment program that will feature the Top 5 trending or topical titles (either on The Roku Channel or on any of thousands of partner channels). The five shows or films will be selected with the help of Roku’s proprietary usage data.
The show premieres Thursday (June 3) with new episodes scheduled to hit every week. “Roku Recommends” is co-hosted by entertainment reporter/personality Maria Menounos and ex-pro football player Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins. It’s produced by Funny Or Die (now owned by designer, philanthropist and activist Henry R. Muñoz III) and shot in L.A., with FOD’s Mike Farah, Beth Belew and Jim Ziegler serving as executive producers.
“Roku Recommends” is the first production from the Roku Brand Studio — formed from the company’s recent acquihire of Funny Or Die’s branded-entertainment team, led by Chris Bruss. The project is a win for consumers, according to Bruss — citing Nielsen research showing it takes viewers an average of 7 minutes to find something to watch on streaming services — as well as marketers who are eager for a way to pitch their products or services to consumers who prefer ad-free, subscription-only environments.
Advertisers will not be able to sponsor the weekly titles featured in “Roku Recommends.” But they will be able to purchase timeslots in the show, during which Menounos and Hawkins will discuss a featured promo by a brand (like a “podcast live-read,” according to Bruss). Retailing giant Walmart has signed on as the premier sponsor of the weekly program.
“The mission of the Roku Brand Studio is to create value not just for our brand partners but for our streaming audience as well,” Bruss said. Among other projects in the works at the Roku Brand Studio is a show sponsored by Maker’s Mark bourbon, set to premiere in July.
Roku will let marketers tap into the Roku Measurement Partner Program to quantify whether their “Roku Recommends” sponsorships reach SVOD-only streamers; add incremental reach to their video ad campaign; shifts perceptions of their brand; drives consumers into stores or to websites; or results in higher sales.
“Roku Recommends” will be available to stream for free on The Roku Channel and in the platform’s “Featured Free” section with new episodes every Thursday.