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Roku teams with Maker’s Mark in star-studded comedy talk show

Randall Park is the host of Roku’s new show with Maker’s Mark

Roku has teamed with bourbon brand Maker’s Mark to launch a talk show miniseries meant to mimic the feeling of having a cozy cocktail at home with a friend – if that friend was comedian and actor Randall Park.

Smart TV and digital media device manufacturer Roku has today announced the debut of a new comedic talk show created in partnership with Maker’s Mark, the popular Beam Suntory-owned bourbon brand.

The Show Next Door is a six-part weekly talk show hosted by actor and comedian Randall Park, best known for his role in ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat. Hosted in Park’s imagined living room, each episode opens with a scene of Park creating a Maker’s Mark cocktail while welcoming viewers to the show. Each week, two celebrities join Park for interviews and interactive games. Guest appearances include Jason Mraz, Tony Hale, Terrell Owens, Mark Duplass and Gina Yashere.

The idea behind the show is “bringing that Makers Hour moment to life – but doing so in a way that was a payoff for the consumer and that was going to meet them with content that is entertaining, rewarding and energizing for them,” says Maker’s Mark senior brand manager Josh Clark. “It serves as that reminder to take a moment for themselves after a day when they've earned it, as well as providing that content that was going to reinforce that treat moment.”

He also notes that Randall Park was an ideal fit to host the show, since he’s not only a skilled comedian and actor, but also a real bourbon drinker and fan of Maker’s Mark.

Making its mark on the world of streaming

Beam Suntory, the parent company of Maker’s Mark, is eyeing a Covid comeback – while it saw a sales dip in the first half of 2020, US sales were up 4% in the second half of the year. Investing in innovative marketing initiatives like The Show Next Door could help the company build upon this momentum.

“We see a huge opportunity in meeting the consumers where they are helping to create content that they can choose to enjoy instead of [an ad] always being inserted into something they are watching,” says Clark. “We think that customization and personalization continue to be themes in the world. This show allows consumers to be inspired but not necessarily told how it shows up.”

Clark says the initiative represents a bold new step for the brand – and one it hopes to build on in the near future. “This partnership with Roku’s Brand Studio has taken us a step farther than we have gone in the past by creating content that is going to live on a streaming platform alongside other produced shows,” he says. “It takes the product role and integrates it more seamlessly than we’ve had the opportunity to in the past. Right now we are in the midst of planning for next year and I think we’ll continue to look at innovative ways to bring the brand forward in the consumer’s eyes.”

The first two episodes of The Show Next Door are available today on The Roku Channel and across Maker’s Mark’s social channels. The next four episodes will each debut over subsequent weeks.

How Roku is investing in innovative brand partnerships

The Show Next Door was created through Roku Brand Studio, a new branch of Roku’s business introduced in March to develop innovative means by which brands can participate in the streaming ecosystem. Brian Toombs, head of content at Roku Brand Studio, helped to bring The Show Next Door to life. He says: “Having a friend come over for a drink is something that we can all relate to. And we thought that that was a really good premise for a show, especially considering the circumstances of the last ... year-plus, but also because it’s such a classy brand that evokes warmth [and] friendship. And these are the things that we saw ... also with our host, Randall Park.”

The Show Next Door was developed in response to both the growing shift from traditional television to streaming and the strong performance of comedy content hosted on Roku’s streaming platform, per Toombs. Hours of streamed comedy content on The Roku Channel saw a 798% year-on-year jump in the first quarter of 2021.

Roku Brand Studio also allows for new integrations, which brands are increasingly interested in. “It’s a win for the advertiser when they get what they want out of the program – the brand looks good, the product looks good and it’s an interesting way to reach consumers,” says Toombs. “It’s also a win for those consumers because it’s entertainment; it’s a good product. We’re trying to meet consumers where they are. And that’s what streaming is.”

Such content is now integral to the company’s overall success. Data from OTT video company nScreenMedia reveals that revenue generated by the Roku platform (versus Roku players, the hardware supporting the platform) accounted for about 81% of Roku’s revenue in Q1 of this year, compared to just 36.4% in Q1 of 2017. The majority of revenue generated by the Roku platform comes from ad sales. Meanwhile, revenue from Roku players made up just 18.8% of the company’s total revenue in the first quarter of this year.

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