Shares of Roku (ROKU -0.19%) have jumped today, up by 13% as of 11:30 a.m. EDT, after the company announced that Disney's (DIS 1.26%) new ESPN Plus service would be coming to the platform. A prominent institutional investor also disclosed a new stake in Roku.
Roku said yesterday that ESPN Plus is now available on current-generation Roku devices. The service includes all-important live sports events in addition to on-demand content and original programming. Roku is offering a seven-day free trial for the service, which will subsequently cost $5 per month or $50 per year.
"Roku customers have enjoyed the ESPN channel for years. The launch of ESPN [Plus] marks an exciting moment for the OTT sports experience, giving consumers more sports content from their favorite pastimes than ever," Roku's general manager of the platform business, Scott Rosenberg, said in a statement. "Roku customers that subscribe to ESPN [Plus] will enjoy access to more live sports events, original shows and films, exclusive studio programs and ESPN's unmatched on-demand library."
Separately, Point72 Asset Management filed a Schedule 13G that disclosed a new passive stake of nearly 2.2 million shares, representing 5.1% of shares outstanding.
Live sports has long been a critical missing piece of the over-the-top (OTT) streaming experience for consumers, but as cord-cutting continues unabated, content providers are finding ways to bring sports to OTT services. Disney in particular has been pushing deeper into the OTT space for quite some time and is publicly planning to challenge Netflix. Roku is one of the largest OTT streaming platforms, and should benefit from both of these trends.
Point72 is a newly established hedge fund led by prominent investor Steve Cohen. Cohen was recently allowed to start accepting outside investor funds again, following an insider-trading scandal years ago that prohibited Cohen from managing outside money. Point72 is wasting no time putting some of that money to use and is betting big on Roku.