Streaming TV platform and device maker Roku has acquired the global rights to exclusively stream programming from shuttered short-form streamer Quibi, the companies announced today.
Most of Quibi’s programming, including more than 75 scripted originals, alternative reality series and short documentaries that all run for about 10 minutes or less, will migrate over in the coming months to live on Roku’s dedicated viewing hub, The Roku Channel. The shows from Quibi, some of which feature high-level talent—including Chrissy Teigen, Lena Waithe, Idris Elba and Anna Kendrick—will be available to view for free on the channel and will feature advertising.
As part of the deal, Roku will also premiere more than a dozen new programs that had been produced by Quibi but never had a chance to premiere on the streaming service before the platform’s quick shutdown late last year.
The deal, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, marks Roku’s first step into the world of exclusive streaming programming, a competitive and expensive business that has nonetheless served as the cornerstone for many media companies’ approach to streaming television.
It also gives some Quibi programming a place to land after the video startup abruptly shut down in December. At the time, Quibi advised viewers that it did not know where its programming might live on, or in what form.
“This was a rare opportunity to bring this amazing content to the Roku Channel and to be able to do it on an ad-supported basis,” Rob Holmes, Roku’s vp of programming, said Friday. “This is big TV-quality content, and we think it’s going to do really well on the big screen, and we think it’s highly promotable.”
Original content has been key to streaming success
The arrangement will further bulk up The Roku Channel, a dedicated hub offering thousands of free ad-supported TV shows and movies, live TV channels and a selection of subscription-only shows and movies. Since debuting The Roku Channel on its platform in 2017, the company has been steadily filling out the offering, bringing in new content through partnerships and arrangements with other media companies, but it had not pursued original programming.
But the acquisition of Quibi’s programming doesn’t mean Roku is making a hard pivot to original content, Holmes said. The opportunity to acquire shows from Quibi was a somewhat unusual one, considering the high-profile nature of the programming and the speed at which Quibi closed its doors.
With that said, Holmes and his team are “always looking to bring compelling content to Roku” and “we’re having conversations all the time about bringing new content to our platform.”
Roku, which sells streaming media players and offers advertisers digital and video ad inventory within its interface, is in the midst of a growth spurt. The company this week said it had surpassed 51 million active accounts, making it one of the biggest streaming platforms on the market. (Amazon Fire TV, the other biggest player in the space, said in mid-December that it had 50 million monthly active users.)
The Roku Channel in particular is a major source of that growth. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the channel reached an estimated 61.8 million people, marking a doubling of its household reach year-over-year, the company said this week. It’s one of the top 10 most active channels on Roku devices in terms of both streaming hours and active accounts.
For Quibi, the deal marks a decidedly low-key end to its short-lived run after premiering in April with the promise of delivering high production-value programming designed for mobile viewing to viewers on-the-go.