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Roku shares are rising as it tussles with big media — a top Roku executive lays out its strategy

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Roku SVP Scott Rosenberg
Source: Roku

A View from the Top is a Q&A series exclusively available on CNBC Pro. Alex Sherman will regularly speak with a new business leader about decision-making, investing and industry news.

Roku is having a moment. The aggregator of digital video is locked in a stalemate with two of the largest U.S. media companies, Comcast's NBCUniversal and AT&T's WarnerMedia, to carry their new streaming applications, Peacock and HBO Max, respectively. 

The disagreements between the programmers and Roku are complicated but important because they'll set up the infrastructure of how content companies and platforms will share revenue in the new world of media. Peacock and Roku are arguing over how much inventory is shared between the services, whether Roku should pay a wholesale fee for that inventory, whether or not Roku's advertising technology integrates with Peacock, and potential restrictions on how Roku sells ads so it doesn't compete with NBCUniversal's own ad sales department, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The battles aren't slowing down Roku shares. In fact, the stock is up 30% this month alone, bringing its gain for the year to 14%.

Roku's Scott Rosenberg leads the company's media business, overseeing ad sales and distribution as senior vice president and general manager of its platform. He is one of the key executives driving Roku's strategy and negotiations with content companies. 

Below he tells CNBC:

  • NBCUniversal has been asking for nearly all of Peacock's advertising inventory, a nonstarter for Roku, which wants at least some of it to sell on its own. 
  • NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia are stuck in a legacy television mindset, where declining subscribers leads to a zero-sum game in negotiations, instead of growing together with Roku.
  • Covid-19 advertising declines will accelerate the unraveling of the cable bundle as TV ad dollars shift to streaming and the cable companies look to drop more channels.

Here's the full Q&A: