Peacock, which offers a combination of entertainment, news, and sports, launched nationwide in July. It was available to stream on a number of different set-top boxes and video game consoles, but it was absent from Roku. Neither NBCUniversal nor Roku could come to an agreement over a split in advertising revenue, leading to a standoff between the two companies. Tedd Cittadine, vice president of content acquisition at Roku, called the newfound agreement a “very positive and mutually beneficial partnership” in a statement to The Verge.
“We are excited by the opportunities to integrate NBC content within The Roku Channel while we also work together with Peacock on the development of a significant and meaningful advertising and ad tech partnership,” Cittadine said.
(Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.)
It’s unclear just how much Roku and NBCUniversal compromised on the advertising inventory split in order to make the deal work. Ad inventory, the biggest holdup in this situation, refers to the percentage of ads Roku takes control over once they’re served on its platform. On Roku’s website, the company says a channel controls 70 percent of its ad inventory, with Roku controlling the remaining 30 percent. Despite counteroffers that both parties brought to the table, neither Roku nor Comcast and NBCUniversal’s team believed them to be fair.
Cittadine’s comment also notes that Roku will work with NBCUniversal on a significant advertising tech partnership, which is important. NBCUniversal executives reportedly had concerns about having Peacock streamed on third-party software the company’s in-house team couldn’t control. Plus, NBCUniversal built an entirely new form of advertising tech explicitly for Peacock. The technology NBCUniversal built helps to better track user data, sell hyper-targeted ads, and increase revenue.
NBCUniversal was far from the only company stuck in a game of never-ending negotiations with Roku. AT&T and WarnerMedia are currently trying to work out a deal with Roku to bring their new streaming service, HBO Max, to the platform. As negotiations continue, WarnerMedia has also begun shuttering some of its other HBO apps (like HBO Go), leading consumers to wonder when HBO Max will finally be available on Roku devices.
Who knows? Maybe this is the beginning of a new era.
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