How to Develop a Successful Roku Channel for Your Brand

Introduction

At Float Left, we’ve been developing on Roku for a looong time! We’re excited that you’ve decided to build a Roku channel and we’re proud to present the following resource of best practices and strategies. There are many things to consider as you get started.

We hope you find the information helpful in addressing some of the questions you may already have and even identify important tips and optimization that you may not have considered.

Rather than a checklist of rules, the Channel Playbook is a guide for thinking strategically about your channel and getting the most out of the Roku platform.

Translate Your Passion onto the Screen!
Most importantly, have fun! Isn’t this all about entertainment after all? This playbook is a guide but not a substitute for your creativity and commitment to creating high-quality content.

As Roku evolves and as new features are released, there will be updates to the Channel Playbook with new strategies, tips, and optimizations for you to try.

 

Programming

Build a connected channel strategy and viewing experience
A successfully executed programming strategy will help drive engagement and maximize your customer’s lifetime value. The best looking and functioning channels won’t live up to their true potential without a long-term programming plan that effectively delivers your brand’s promise.

  • Captivating Content
  • Regular Scheduling & Frequency
  • Knowing Your Audience

 

Captivating Content

Hooking your viewers from the very beginning is essential. However, that’s easier said than done. To start with (strike your best yoga pose), you must look within and don’t lose sight of who you are.

Be True to Your Brand
From tone and personality to the subject matter, sticking to content that fits with your brand is very important.

Bait & Hook
Develop content with a clear story arc. Make sure your brand’s message and purpose lives in your content and that you uphold the brand equity you’ve built through “sticky” and relevant content that keeps your viewers coming back for more.

THE HOOK
Set the viewers expectations.

THE JOURNEY
Lead the viewer through the story.

THE BAIT
Deliver on the original premise and set the table for future content.

Pro-Tip: Publishing an episode is just one stage of the lifecycle of your content. You need to give equal attention to pre-production, production, publishing, and post-publishing to optimize the success of each episode.

Case Study: Nickelodeon
The Nickelodeon Channel on Roku is a great example of a native application with original programming hooking the viewer in with captivating content while also teasing the viewer to come back for more.

 

Regular Scheduling & Frequency

Now you’ve hooked them, give them a good reason to keep coming back. New, regularly scheduled content will accomplish that.

Upload Frequently
To ensure that your channel feels relevant and active, you should publish at least one new video per week.

Pro-Tip: News, sports, weather, or other “perishable” content should get published on a daily basis.

Publishing
Build viewing habits with your audience to drive engagement. Publish your content on the same day of the week or even the same time of day.

Tent Poles
Holidays, sporting events, movies, or new series launches are terrific opportunities to grow usage with your content and new users by tapping into people’s cultural mindsets.

Editorial Calendar
Create a calendar that charts your future content plans and capitalizes on seasonal trends and events. It is also helpful for your marketing efforts.

 

Knowing Your Audience

Audiences are composed of different people with different likes and perceptions. Understanding your audience and their viewing behavior enables you to create content more confidently that will drive viewer retention. Use date to uncover insights that will help you understand, capture, and hold onto your audience’s attention.

Your content will appeal to a target demographic and understanding that audience’s preferences will enable you to build on their excitement.

Just Keep Learning!
There is some nuance here. You’ll get a feel for which shows are performing better than others, and you’ll have a good idea of who you’re targeting as long as you’re paying attention. However, pure analytics and statistics will also go a long way in helping guide your success over the long term.

Monitor and measure every piece of data that you can, including:

  • Start times and end times of content
  • Duration lengths and formats of content
  • Fire a beacon for each unique page in your channel to capture page views
  • Fire a beacon for each individual title played in your channel to capture video views

Rely on Other Experts
Don’t try and go at it alone. Consider a commercial analytics package like Omniture or Google Analytics to streamline and augment your reporting and learning.

Pro-Tip: As your channel evolves and grows, so will your audience and their viewing preferences. Routinely survey your audience and solicit feedback from a variety of social media channels.

Revenue Opportunities
Maybe you’ve produced all of this content for the pure artistry of it all, but we’re guessing it would be nice to get some cash for all of your time and effort.

There are three primary ways in which you can do that:

  • Charging for subscriptions
  • Advertising

Roku has developed a complete end-to-end billing solution so you can stay focus on what you do best –creating great content. Plus, the process is as seamless as possible for the viewer.

Remember, you want to leave viewers wanting more!
Here are some best practices for both:

  • Create a highlight reel that best represents your content and has it auto=play whenever someone enters your channel.
  • Be sure to include promotional and sign-up information in the video too. Even though you want to capture their attention, don’t be intrusive.
  • Place the video in a squeeze back mode so that users can quickly stop the video if they wish.
  • Segment out content non-subscribers can’t watch without a subscription. You want to let them know what other content is available, but be careful not to lead them to believe they are about to watch something without a subscription.

Remove the Barriers to Entry
Mobile devices are not the only platforms following the trend of free apps relying on in-app purchases. The same is true for Roku. In-app purchases for channel subscription or content enable audiences to browse and get a feel for your channel before committing to pay once you’ve hooked them.

Fish Where the Fish Are
Consumers can access content on multiple devices and frequently do. You should allow your Roku subscribers to sign in to your channel, regardless of device. To enable subscriptions and one-time purchases available off Roku, contact Float Left today. We have performed this integration for many content publishers.

 

Advertising

Consumers are very accepting of advertising around free videos, but you need to strike a delicate balance between the two. Don’t jeopardize short-term gain by alienating users with advertising fatigue.

Case Study: Hulu
Hulu includes advertisements to reduce the monthly subscription price of the service. They’re a great example of a channel that combines the subscription model with advertising while still adding to their customer base (their unorthodox ads certainly don’t hurt either).

Here are a few suggestions to optimize the number of video views on your channel over the lifetime of a consumer:

  • Avoid starting a new session with an ad
  • For short-term content, insert an ad only 3–4 clips, or every 7–10 minutes
  • Frequency cap, so users don’t repetitively see the same creative
  • Consider fewer ad breaks but more ads per break
  • Encode ads at HD quality
  • Encode ads at audio levels comparable to your content
  • Consider use of an interactive ad toolkit (such as Brightline)

Promotion
Getting viewers to your channel is challenging enough as it is, so do everything in your power to promote additional content on your channel once they are there.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Passionate fans find like-minded people through social networks and word-of-mouth. Your channel is not only serving the individual but a community, and engage community leads to a dedicated audience.

You Are a Media Company!
You’ve created a channel. You are now a broadcaster. Think like one. Use any and all promotional inventory — on your channel, between your clips, e-mail, and social networks — to promote current and upcoming content. Get engaged in online conversations about your content. Tease discussion boards and actively participate in Twitter chats talking about subjects related to your content.

Pro-Tip: Identify hashtags on social networks related to the content you create and your channel. Follow key influencers and engage with them in their communities.

Building a two-way communication channel will help you create buzz, monitor your consumer’s interests and needs, and expose your content to their social circles.

User Experience
You want every touch point with your audience to be as optimized as possible. Creating a seamless, smooth user experience will instill confidence in the viewer.

Anticipate and Adapt
There is a delay that may occur when your channel first launches. Be proactive and show a secondary “loading” screen to let your viewers know.

When your channel launches, show a secondary screen with the word “loading” on it. It will tell your users things you are working during the delay, which typically occurs while your channel is initializing.

 

Technical Overview

There are four phases of your Channel Application launch:

  1. A 5-Staged Software Development Process – Unless you’re opting for Roku Direct Publisher, you’ll expect a typical software development process here. If you’re working with an experienced team, they will guide you through the entire process.
  2. QA Testing – Roku will provide user-level QA testing to assess the user experience within the channel.The channel manager conducts full end-to-end QA pass, external beta testing, ad serving tests, and analytics.
  3. Launch – Roku will publish your channel to the channel store only after a definitive agreement has been fully executed between the parties. Float Left can make introductions if needed.
  4. Production Support – You will be responsible for customer support for the channel. In most cases, Float Left will provide production support to our clients.

Roku will be responsible for customer support related to the platform and streaming devices.

For more information on how Float Left can help you launch your Roku channel click here!