Select Page

Hardware giant Roku – famous for developing hardware that lowered the barrier to TV streaming – has rebranded the Quibi shows it acquired as ‘Roku Originals’, bringing it firmly into the content market. 

Here’s what you need to know about the move. 

The timeline

Quibi, the Hollywood suits’ answer to online video, shut down after just six months back in October 2020. A few months later, it was CTV firm Roku that salvaged its mobile-optimised star-studded content that struggled to find any significant audience. It spent $1.75bn creating sub-10-minute shows designed to be consumed on the move – but few people were actually on the move in 2020, one of the reasons raised for its eventual failure.

Meanwhile Roku, which made its name selling streaming hardware, now generates the bulk of its revenue ($1.2bn in 2019) from software revenue, largely driven by advertising. It’s upping its original content to broaden its appeal and meet more demand for inventory. 

This included launching its own TV channel beyond the US. Rob Holmes, vice-president of programming at Roku, said there’s a roof to the number of TV services people are willing to pay for, but they are looking for free TV to supplement their viewing. The daytime TV fare people will be familiar with has been snapped up so far. Quibi’s addition marked a shift in strategy. 

Meanwhile, it is trying to bring its CTV product up to a higher standard. In March, it acquired Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising (AVA) business to solve the measurement issue in connected TV (CTV) and continue growing its ad spend share.

The Originals

On Wednesday April 21, Roku announced that its content, including shows picked up from Quibi, will run on the Roku Channel under the ‘Roku Originals’.

Roku also says “future original programming” will carry the title. Roku says it will have more details about these originals in May, encapsulating “award-winning scripted entertainment and engaging documentaries, to new breakout unscripted series”. More than 75 Roku Originals will be made available this year.

Sweta Patel, vice-president of engagement growth marketing at Roku, said: “We’re thrilled to introduce this award-winning and diverse portfolio of entertainment under the Roku Originals brand – it’s relevant, fun and thought-provoking TV that has something for everyone from the best talent in Hollywood, including Anna Kendrick, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Waithe, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart and Liam Hemsworth. The Roku Channel is the place for incredible, free programming and we are excited to bring this premium content to the biggest screen in the home.”

This brings the Roku Channel line-up to 25,000 free movies and programs.