Quibi’s original series will live on thanks to a deal with Roku, but while the short-form video service was meant for your mobile phone, Roku is planning on bringing it to a slightly bigger screen.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about Quibi,” Roku vice president of programming Rob Holmes said. “But from our perspective, it’s just great content. It’s great TV.”
Roku agreed to purchase the global distribution rights for the majority of shuttered Quibi’s content library. More than 75 shows and documentaries will now be exclusive to Roku for the next two years and the company will have the ability to continue to host the content through 2027. Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, sources told The Wall Street Journal the price was less than $100 million with one person suggesting it was “significantly less.”
At one point valued at $1.75 billion, Quibi was built on the proposition that people were looking for bite-sized entertainment. No episode was longer than 10 minutes, but still featured top Hollywood talent including Kevin Hart, Chrissy Teigen, and Liam Hemsworth. The service was the brainchild of media executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who previously was the chairman of Walt Disney Studios and co-founded DreamWorks Animation.
But once the pandemic struck, people no longer had a need for quick content, especially while commuting. The service found itself struggling to find viewers and folded in December 2020, less than eight months after it launched.
Meanwhile, Roku had 51.2 million active accounts as of the end of 2020, fueled in part by stay-at-home orders and binge-watching behavior. It streamed almost 60 billion hours of content last year, marking more than 55 percent growth year-over-year. It is currently the top streaming platform based on the number of viewing hours, according to data firm Kantar.
Quibi’s programming will find a new home on The Roku Channel, Roku’s ad-supported service. More than 61 million people watched the offering during the fourth quarter of 2020. But while Quibi’s model required a monthly service fee of $4.99 to watch shows with ads or $7.99 without them, The Roku Channel is free.  It also gives Roku a larger library for its advertising partners, making them a more dominant figure as streaming viewership continues to grow.
“We’re really seeing this ad-supported streaming model as having a lot of momentum on our platform,” Holmes said. “Of course, there’s a lot going on in the world today and so users are choosing between all these different subscription services which have a monthly fee, and The Roku Channel doesn’t have a fee to view this content and so that proposition of more free content, great free content for our users, is really compelling.”
While the Quibi episodes will be the first original shows and movies headed to Roku, the company still does not have plans to launch its own production company like other streamers including Netflix and Amazon Studios have done. However, there may be options to leverage the stars and producers tapped for Quibi shows in the future.
“The Quibi transaction is really a unique opportunity to be able to bring content of this caliber to a channel like The Roku Channel on an ad-supported basis," Holmes said. “That’s something that we are excited about. Certainly, there are some opportunities to have conversations with folks that were involved with Quibi and maybe see where there may be things to do, but really within that window of ad-supported economics, this isn’t the start of some big, new production slate for us.”