Roku has acquired defunct streaming service Quibi’s library of content, the company announced today. Content from the short-form service will appear on the Roku Channel for free at some point in 2021, though the company hasn’t announced an exact date for its arrival. Roku did not disclose how much it paid for the content in its announcement, but The Wall Street Journal reports it paid “significantly less” than $100 million for the shows. The deal was rumored earlier this month in a separate report from the WSJ.
Despite Quibi’s failure, its content was star-studded. Roku’s announcement says the Quibi content it has licensed will feature stars including “Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Anna Kendrick, Nicole Richie, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Waithe, and many others.” Over 75 shows will be available as part of the deal, Roku says. Roku, one of the leading hardware companies in the streaming space, is trying to push more into software.
Acquiring Quibi’s shows and placing them exclusively within The Roku Channel (a free offering from the company) will be used to drive watch time on the platform and possibly increase the amount of ad inventory Roku can sell. As competition in the hardware space increases, finding new legs up over competition — in this case, original content — is a must.
Although Quibi’s content was primarily designed to be consumed on mobile devices, it was previously possible to watch its content on TVs thanks to native apps that were released for Apple TV, Android TV, and Fire TV, albeit months after the service’s launch. Quibi content could also be streamed to compatible TVs via AirPlay and Chromecast. Roku’s website notes that the Roku Channel is available on Roku’s players, select smart TVs, mobile apps, and the web.
Quibi’s content will be exclusive to Roku for the same two-year exclusivity window originally agreed with content creators, the WSJ notes, after which Roku will keep the right to show the content until 2027. However, Roku will reportedly have to present the shows in their original form, and won’t be able to string multiple short-form episodes together to create content of a more traditional length.
The Roku deal comes after Quibi officially announced it was shutting down in October after running for a little over six months. The app failed for myriad reasons, despite managing to raise $1.75 billion in funding prior to its launch largely thanks to hype and dealmaking from its high-profile leadership, former HP exec Meg Whitman and former Disney chairman and movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.