Roku sizing up deal for Quibi's content – report

Roku is in "advanced talks" to acquire the content catalog of Quibi, the failed premium short-form streaming service that shut down late last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Quibi was a mobile-focused streaming service founded by Hollywood icon Jeffrey Katzenberg that ended up raising about $1.75 billion. Quibi made a big splash at last year's CES ahead of an April service launch; the service also started in the middle of a pandemic that forced consumers to hunker down at home. Quibi, which dragged its feet adding support for major TV streaming platforms, announced last October that it was shutting down the service and looking to sell off its content and technologies. At the time, The Information reported that Quibi received no interest from overtures made to Apple exec Eddy Cue and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.

Quibi's content catalog includes Thanks A Million from Jennifer Lopez; Punk'd, hosted by Chance the Rapper; and the Most Dangerous Game, a thriller starting Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz:

The WSJ said Roku is motivated to buy Quibi's content catalog as it would provide a batch of premium, exclusive fare that could help to broaden the scope of The Roku Channel, a video streaming aggregation service that features both free, ad-supported video as well as tie-ins with various subscription-based OTT services. The Roku Channel is a key piece of Roku's high-flying Platforms business, which pulled in revenues of $319.2 million, up 78% year-over-year.

The WSJ said it's not clear what Roku is seeking to pay for the rights to Quibi's library, which features a mix of entertainment-focused series that typically run less than ten minutes per episode. The WSJ added that Quibi's original deals with producers allowed the startup to stream their shows for a period of seven years, but also noted that those terms would not prevent Roku from offering Quibi's content on Roku's own platform.

It's not clear if Quibi's legal quarrel with Eko over Quibi's "Turnstyle" technology, which maintains the full-screen experience as content is viewed on smartphones in portrait or landscape mode, has any bearing on Quibi's talks with Roku.

Before shutting down, the Quibi service sold for $4.99 per month with ads and $7.99 without ads. The service reportedly fell well short of a target to draw 7.5 million subs in its first year.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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