Roku picks off Quibi’s content bones with under $100 million deal

2020 was a washout for most people, and Quibi was no different. The short-form video streamer launched with tons of hype in April 2020, calling itself an easy-to-consume alternative to the bigger streaming services on the market.

Their thinking was that with today’s attention span, people would be happy to not have to go through hours of content when they could watch a ten-minute Liam Hemsworth thriller. The general public didn’t agree, and within six months, Quibi was up for sale and then forced to shut down.

Quibi didn’t think ahead on some issues though. It was only available on mobile devices, and the company disabled users from being able to take screenshots. As we know, websites that do tv show recaps rely on them. This made it much harder to hype any of its shows.

The shows were actually quite good, it was the platform the was the problem. Now, what people weren’t willing to pay for in 2020, they will be getting for free in 2021.

Roku is buying the content library of Quibi, the short-lived streaming service, to bulk up its own free ad-supported channel.

Quibi, short for quick bites, raised $1.75 billion from investors including major Hollywood players like Disney, NBCUniversal and Viacom. It produced shows that were released in 10- to 12-minute increments or less, believing that there was strong demand from people stuck doing anything from waiting in lines to commuting.

But it stepped into a market already saturated with short videos from YouTube, TikTok and other platforms, and that content is essentially generated free of cost.

Quibi also launched in April 2020, when a global pandemic scrambled the routines of millions, including commutes to work. It shut down last month.

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Roku created its business solely as a hub for other streaming services, but has recently begun piling up content for its free Roku Channel.

With the acquisition, Roku will acquire 75 staccato-style programming with some very big names attached. Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Anna Kendrick, Nicole Richie, Chrissy Teigen and Lena Waithe have all been in Quibi shows. That includes more than 12 shows that never aired on Quibi before it was shuttered. The shows target the 18-35 demographic, an attractive segment for advertisers.

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Roku spokesperson Dallas Lawrence said the short format will work well for the ad-supported Roku Channel because there are “natural commercial breaks built into the programming.”

The Quibi content, created for mobile viewing, can still be viewed on phones via Roku’s mobile app.

Roku says its channel reached 61.8 million people in the fourth quarter, double that from the prior year. More people are streaming entertainment as people stay at home during the pandemic, but there’s growing competition, too. New streaming services including Discovery+, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, HBOMax, and others have been launched to rival older services like Netflix and Hulu.

The Roku Channel includes more than 40,000 free movies and shows and 150 free live linear television channels.

Financial terms were undisclosed Friday which isn’t surprising as it turned out to only be about 5.7 percent of Quibi’s initial $1.75 billion valuation. Roku’s deal was for less than $100 million.

Being able to plaster the faces of Christoph Waltz, Idris Elba, Anna Kendrick and Liam Hemsworth adds much more value to the deal.

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