Deal for global content distribution rights to Quibi's short-form premium fare paves way for Roku to serve it up on The Roku Channel, its ad-supported content aggregation platform.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

January 8, 2021

3 Min Read
Roku deals for Quibi's content

Quibi's premium short-form fare will live on – thanks to a distribution deal with streaming giant Roku.

Days after The Wall Street Journal reported that such a deal was in the works, Roku announced Friday that it had secured the global content distribution rights for Quibi's catalog of more than 75 premium shows and documentaries.

Figure 1: The Roku Channel will be the new exclusive home for Quibi's content slate. The Roku Channel ended 2020 with a reach of 61.8 million US households, according to company estimates. The Roku Channel will be the new exclusive home for Quibi's content slate. The Roku Channel ended 2020 with a reach of 61.8 million US households, according to company estimates.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Deadline reports that the valuation is understood to be less than $100 million.

Update: The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed person familiar with the deal, said the price Roku is paying is "significantly less" than $100 million.

Roku said it plans to offer Quibi's content for free on an ad-supported basis in 2021 on The Roku Channel, the company's content aggregation platform for both ad-based and subscription-based content. Roku noted that it will offer all Quibi content that has already premiered on the now-defunct Quibi streaming servcie, along with more than a dozen new Quibi-produced programs that will debut exclusively on The Roku Channel.

Quibi, the mobile-focused streaming service founded by Hollywood icon Jeffrey Katzenberg that ended up raising about $1.75 billion, announced last October that it was shutting down and pursuing a plan to sell off its content and technologies.

Roku's reach

The deal will give Quibi's content a better chance to be seen than it did when the Quibi service was still alive and struggling to find an audience. The Roku Channel, distributed on Roku's own TV streaming platfomr and mobile apps, web browsers, Amazon Fire TV devices and Samsung smart TVs, reached about 61.8 million US households at the end of 2020, Roku estimates.

Roku announced this week preliminary estimates that it ended Q4 2020 with 51.2 million active accounts, up by about 14 million for the full year. Roku also estimated that its users streamed 17 billion hours of content in the fall quarter for a total of 57.7 billion for all of 2020, an increase of 55% year-over-year on both a quarterly and full-year basis. Roku announced Friday that the Roku operating system was the top smart TV OS for the US and Canada, citing NPD data finding that Roku TV held a 38% share in the US and 31% share in Canada.

Some irony on the timing – the deal was announced just prior to CES 2021, and roughly a year after Quibi made a big splash and lofty promises at CES 2020.

Quibi launched in April 2020 with ad-based and ad-free tiers during a pandemic that forced people to stay at home and all but erased Quibi's core premise that its mobile-optimized content was tailored for people on the go. Quibi also was slow to develop apps for TV-based streaming platforms and address a big complaint users had with the service early on.

Quibi was also distracted by a legal battle with Eko over Quibi's "Turnstyle" technology, which maintains the full-screen experience as content is viewed on smartphones in portrait or landscape mode.

As it sought to sell off its content and tech, Quibi reportedly made failed inquiries to Apple exec Eddy Cue and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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