IAB Canada Thought Leader Spotlight – Roku on Streaming in Canada

After an action-packed immersion into Advanced TV last week, we caught up with Roku’s Director of Ad Measurement, Gaurav Shirole, and asked some follow up questions about the streaming future of TV. We wanted to get a sense of what is happening behind the scenes and maybe a glimpse into the future of Advanced TV from a major stakeholder on the scene. 

IAB Canada (IABC): Gaurav, thank you for taking the time to discuss Advanced TV with us. We’re curious about your view on the last few years as there has been a major shift to connected TV video viewing in Canada.What are the key contributors to this rapid growth? 

Gaurav Shirole (GS): Streaming is mainstream now because technology improved, connection speeds ramped up and the quality of streamable programming reached new highs. And it’s no longer just the younger generations, everyone in Canada is streaming. We estimate the over 55- demographic alone comprises a quarter of all streamers in Canada. 

I’m really excited to release this study on how Canadians stream their entertainment. The fact that nearly 1 in 3 Canadian OTT users have cut the cord and 1 in 4 Canadians plan to cut the cord next year shows how important this is for our industry. 

IABC: Smart TVs and OTT device adoption are critical to growth in consumption. How much innovation do you believe will continue to take place on the device levels that will allow for market share growth? 

GS: We pioneered streaming to the TV in 2008 with the launch of our first streaming player and have brought a lot to the category over the years. A key ingredient to our success though is simplicity or ease of use for consumers. We try to get you to the show you want to watch as quickly as possible. 

IABC: Much of the growth in OTT viewing to date is attributed to subscription video on demand (SVOD) services like Netflix that don’t have commercials however in the recent study when cord-cutters were asked why they made the cut none of the top three reasons listed were related to ad avoidance – have you seen similar studies or indications to this effect? 

GSThis surprises a lot of people I talk to in the space. There’s so much hype around SVOD services that people assume everyone is turning to these non-ad-supported environments. They are certainly growing quickly, but consumers aren’t as tied to one service as you might think. 

In our study, we found that 73% of Canadian streamers use more than one service, and 47% use at least one free, ad-supported service. In fact, those who consume ad-supported streaming content are 34% more likely to be cord cutters than those who only watch subscription services. That doesn’t mean the advertising environment isn’t important – 76% of Canadians agree that seeing too many ads on TV ruins their enjoyment, but the research shows streamers are open to advertising. 

IABC: As more OTT ad supported video on demand (AVOD) streaming apps come to market, do you foresee a shift to more ad supported viewing or have viewers gotten too used to not seeing commercials? 

GS: In fact, AVOD is one of the fastest growing categories on our platform! We launched our own AVOD offering in Canada in 2018 called The Roku Channel, which is currently a top 5 channel on our platform in terms of engagement. The channel offers consumers thousands of movies and TV episodes for free. The channel is ad supported with a maximum ad load of 8 minutes to the hour and 1 campaign exposure per 30 minutes. 

IABC: Looking ahead to the next 5 years, what is the biggest change you expect in the CTV ad industry? 

GS: As a company we believe that we have now entered the streaming decade, where at some point in time streaming will become the main distribution method for TV. Our founder Anthony Wood predicted early on that all TV would be streamed, and with that all advertising, which is quickly becoming a reality! 

IABC: We’d like to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and look forward to watching the future of TV evolve. See you at the next event for an update! 

GS: Thank you for having me! Roku has been in Canada since 2012 and we wanted to share our expertise and views through this report. I’m excited to share it with you and look forward to providing updates in the future. You can download the paper here