Roku set more of its plans around original fare in motion Wednesday, announcing that content from its recent acquisition of Quibi's content catalog will be rebranded as "Roku Originals" and launched on The Roku Channel.
Other Roku-produced fare will also be placed under the new Roku Originals branding umbrella and shown on The Roku Channel, the company's free, ad-supported streaming service, in the US, Canada and the UK. The Roku Channel, a service launched in the fall of 2017, reached 63 million US homes at the end of Q4 2020, up more than 100% year-over-year. However, The Roku Channel accounted for 1% of streaming minutes, according to MoffettNathanson's analysis of August 2020 Nielsen data.
Roku hasn't announced how much cash is being earmarked for original fare, but said it will share more details on the launch of Roku Originals in May. However, the company did note that 75 Roku Originals, including a dozen unreleased series, will make their debut on The Roku Channel this year. Among recent moves, Roku inked a deal to premiere CYPHER, a new scripted series, on The Roku Channel on March 19.
The Roku Channel currently offers more than 40,000 free movies and TV shows, plus more than 165 free, linear-style streaming TV channels.
Roku's original content plan is taking shape more than four months after Roku snared the global content distribution rights for Quibi's catalog of more than 75 shows and documentaries. Quibi, which raised about $1.75 billion during its brief, hype-filled life, announced last fall it was shutting down the service less than seven months after it was launched last April.
AVoD market heating up
Some industry analysts believe it's critical for Roku to bulk up on originals in order to grow and stay competitive in a hotly-contested free, ad-supported market that also includes Fox-owned Tubi, ViacomCBS's Pluto TV, Amazon's IMDb TV and Xumo, a service acquired by Comcast in February 2020. Meanwhile, Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service, offers a free, ad-supported tier that complements two subscription-based options. WarnerMedia expects to launch an ad-supported version of HBO Max in June.
"In order to better compete with a new crop of now fully-integrated AVOD [advertising video-on-demand] competitors, we believe that Roku will have to 'ladder up' into original content (à la Netflix) and away from commoditized library content," Michael Nathanson, analyst with MoffettNathanson, argued in a recent report focused on Roku's business. "The acquisition of Quibi's nascent library is the first step."
Advertising has become a major growth driver for Roku. The company's Platforms business, which encompasses advertising, subscription revenue sharing and license fees from TV makers, soared 81%, to $471.2 million, in Q4 2020.
Roku advanced its ad business last month with the acquisition of Nielsen's Advanced Video Advertising business, which includes Nielsen's video automatic content recognition (ACR) and dynamic ad insertion tech.
- Roku must 'ladder up' to original content to stay competitive – analyst
- Roku deals for Quibi's content
- Roku adds more exclusive fare to its streaming channel
- Roku strikes deal for Nielsen's advanced video ad business
- Roku ARPU flies past $28
- Roku freshens up device lineup, OS
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading