As the streaming ambitions of media giants like Walt Disney and AT&T's WarnerMedia take shape, Roku is positioning itself to own the digital pipes for direct-to-consumer brands to distribute their content to consumers.
But it's doing more than mimicking the role traditional cable and pay-TV operators have played for decades. The company, which boasts 22 million active users through its players and TV sets powered by its software, also wants to aggregate the content from niche streaming services that might not be able to sustain their direct-to-consumer efforts. To that end, Roku CEO Anthony Wood is looking to the free, ad-supported Roku Channel, which debuted in September, as a testing ground for revamping advertising and content aggregation.
Here, Wood talks with Ad Age about his vision for the Roku home screen, how ads can be more like programming, and why he doesn't fear Amazon. This interview has been edited and condensed.