Roku announced preliminary Q4 ’20 results this morning, including that it had 51.2 million active accounts as of Dec. 31st. While breaking the 50 million level is a symbolic milestone, more important, it’s evidence of Roku’s ongoing momentum. Roku increased active accounts by 14.3 million or over 38%, in 2020, up from 36.9 million active accounts at the end of 2019. Roku’s active accounts are up more than 5x in the past 5 years when it reported 9 million active accounts.
Active accounts grew by 5.2 million or 11%, in Q4 ’20, up from 46 million at the end of Q3. That compared with 4.6 million active accounts added in Q4 ’19. As has been the case with most of 2020, Q4 no doubt benefited from the impact of Covid. But Roku also added HBO Max in mid-December, which likely provided a last minute holiday bump in sales of Roku TVs and players.
Roku also said viewers streamed an estimated 17 billion hours in Q4, up from 10.9 billion in Q4 ’20 and 14.8 billion in Q3 ’20. For all of 2020, Roku viewers streamed 58.7 billion hours, which was approximately 51% higher than the 38.8 billion hours viewers streamed in 2019.
Roku also noted that The Roku Channel doubled its reach year over year, to 61.8 million U.S. households. In December the top free title on The Roku Channel was “Ernest Saves Christmas” and the top SVOD title was “The Spanish Princess” (available on Starz).
Roku didn’t disclose any of its key financial metrics such as Platform revenue (which includes its fast-growing advertising business) or Player revenue or Player gross margin (which in Q4 ’19 was -.5% amid competitive discounting). All of these metrics will be included when Roku reports its full financial results in a few weeks.
2020 was a watershed year for Roku, helped by Covid accelerating consumers’ shift to streaming, high quality OTT content choices proliferating (e.g. HBO Max, Peacock, etc.) and advertisers shifting spending to connected TV platforms. Roku’s massive user base and sophisticated advertising infrastructure made it among the most critical partners for all ad-supported and subscription-supported OTT providers. All of these trends will continue in 2021.