The star-studded library of short-lived video streaming company Quibi has a new home: Roku.
The Roku Channel will soon stream more than 75 shows created by the short-form subscription service launched in April by former Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.
Quibi shuttered in October, citing the coronavirus pandemic as a possible reason that consumers didn’t embrace videos consumed while on the go – since may stayed at home during shutdown orders.
The acquisition, terms of which were not released, bolsters a growing Roku Channel, which has a library of advertising-supported free TV shows and movies. The acquired Quibi content includes series and documentaries with big name stars including Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Anna Kendrick, Nicole Richie, Chrissy Teigen, and Lena Waithe.
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The Quibi production “#FreeRayshawn,” won Creative Arts Emmy Awards for stars Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones, in the short-form category.
Much of the the content had previously run on Quibi, but more than a dozen new programs will make their exclusive debut on The Roku Channel.
“Today’s announcement marks a rare opportunity to acquire compelling new original programming that features some of the biggest names in entertainment,” said Rob Holmes, vice president of programming at Roku, in a statement. “We’re excited to make this content available for free to our users in The Roku Channel through an ad-supported model. We are also thrilled to welcome the incredible studios and talented individuals who brought these stories to life and showcase them to our tens of millions of viewers.”
Quibi, which got its name from a shortened form of “Quick Bites,” initially got 1.7 million app downloads in its first week, Whitman told CNBC in April. Subscribers got a 90-day free trial, then paid $4.99 monthly or $7.99 without commercials.
“The most creative and imaginative minds in Hollywood created groundbreaking content for Quibi that exceeded our expectations,” Katzenberg said in a statement. “We are thrilled that these stories, from the surreal to the sublime, have found a new home on The Roku Channel.”
Roku got Quibi’s content for the equivalent of “a yard sale,” said Stephen Beck, founder and managing partner at management consulting firm cg42.
“Ultimately, it is unlikely that Roku will find much value in content that has already been viewed – or deemed unexciting – by viewers,” he said. “That said, the upside for the Roku Channel is that it gains access to content with big-name stars at a cost that is likely far lower than what it would take to bring on those stars and create that content from scratch.”
Roku is the nation’s leading streaming platform with more than 51 million monthly active accounts at the end of 2020. Research firm eMarketer estimates Roku captures about 33% of U.S. internet users and 47% of connected TV users.
The Roku Channel, launched in 2017, had 61.8 million viewers in the last three months of 2020, twice the viewership a year ago, the company says.
Roku also announced Friday that its Roku TV operating system had the largest market share, 38%, as sales of Roku TVs boomed during 2020.
Roku, based in San Jose, California, also announced a wireless soundbar “reference design” standard that will let other speaker makers create soundbars that connect to Roku TVs.
Element Electronics, one of several companies that makes Roku TVs (with built-in streaming tech), will also soon bring to market a new Roku TV Ready soundbar and soundbar w/subwoofer speaker. The products will be unveiled at CES in coming days.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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