Roku Inc. (ROKU), the maker of television set-top boxes and video player software, got a double lift after markets closed on Monday.
The company’s share price was more than 5% higher in pre-market trading after hedge fund Point72 revealed a stake in the media streaming specialist just as Roku was announcing that ESPN+, Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS) new sports video streaming service, will now be made available across all its devices.
Steve Cohen’s Point72 said in a regulatory filing that it bought a 5.1% passive stake in Roku. The investment marks an important return to trading for Cohen, who was banned from managing outside capital until the beginning of 2018 after his former firm SAC Capital pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013. Cohen continues to maintain his innocence and has developed a decent track record over the years investing in equities. (See also: Steven Cohen's Success Story: Net Worth, Education & Top Quotes.)
Shortly after news of Point72’s investment was published, Roku announced a new content partnership with Disney’s ESPN. Roku confirmed that its device users can now watch ESPN+, Disney’s newly launched first direct-to-consumer initiative, for $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year.
“Roku customers have enjoyed the ESPN channel for years,” Scott Rosenberg, general manager of Roku’s platform business, said in a statement. “The launch of ESPN+ marks an exciting moment for the OTT sports experience, giving consumers more sports content from their favorite pastimes than ever. Roku customers that subscribe to ESPN+ will enjoy access to more live sports events, original shows and films, exclusive studio programs and ESPN’s unmatched on-demand library.”
ESPN+ is set to offer access to 10,000 live sporting events in its first year, including Major League Baseball, NHL hockey, MLS soccer and college sports. It will also provide viewers with original sporting documentaries, ESPN studio programming and a library of on-demand programs and past sporting events. ESPN+ plans to use limited advertising to lure in viewers and has been launched to help Disney compete with the likes of Netflix Inc. (NFLX). (See also: Disney's Netflix Rival Will Have a Lower Content Budget.)
Roku has so far had a difficult time convincing investors to back it since it went public last year. In February, the company guided for revenue increases of as much as 35%, but also warned that extra sales won’t be very profitable, due to large operating expenses. Roku’s share price has fallen about 36% year to date. (See also: Roku Shares Could Fall 50% Further.)