Roku Head of Content David Eilenberg Says Prioritizing Programming Is ‘Certainly a Balancing Act’

Roku City is divided up into sub-home screen zones for particular audiences, Roku’s Head of Content David Eilenberg explained at an interview during the Cannes Lions in France. Categories like sports, home and food are also divided into other sub-zones, a specificity he says has helped the company’s content efforts throughout its ecosystem.

As the head of content for the company, Eilenberg says at the Variety Studio presented by Canva, his team tries to serve users both content that they would prefer to watch and market big launches to them as well: “I would say [it] is a balance. Both of those things happen. On the one hand, we want to make sure that we’re serving users content that they would prefer to watch. On the other hand, when there’s a big launch, whether it’s ours or somebody else’s, you’ll often see ads on the home screen…It’s personalization on the one hand, and mass reach on the other.”

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Eilenberg says that although the TV and streaming landscape is ever changing, there are cultural and behavioral patterns, like people watching sports on the weekends and people watching daytime programming during the day, that will persist.

On Roku’s original content, he says the company has begun to hone in on core categories that work for both audiences and advertisers. Categories like food and home, sports and documentaries have worked well on both ends, Eilenberg says.

The vast majorities of titles in the Roku channel are acquired content, from big studios to smaller creators, which Eilenberg says will be the way things continue. He also points to continuity within the brand, such as having the “Great American Baking Show” as well as the “Great British Bake Off” library for viewers to enjoy.

As for dealing with the massive amounts of content Roku has, Eilenberg says the company wants to prioritize what’s best for the viewer at all times: “It’s a complicated and sophisticated set of calculations in terms of what content do you prioritize at any given moment….The theme of our new front was that we are the lead-in to all of TV, and that means that we’re not only looking at our own content, but we have partnerships with every major media and entertainment company… it is certainly a balancing act.”

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