The New York Times reports that Roku and the recently discontinued Quibi have struck an agreement that will see the former purchasing the rights to the latter’s original content library.
Quibi goes down the drain…
As a result, some Quibi content will live on even though the service is no more. While the transaction price hasn’t been disclosed (a source says it was under $100 million), Quibi owns a slew of original shows and films featuring Hollywood stars such as Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Anna Kendrick and Idris Elba.
Roku’s programming head Rob Holmes has told the paper that this “isn’t the start of a big push into original production,” but has nevertheless hinted that the company could fund more productions in the future. If you’ve never used Quibi, the service was entirely focused on mobile-first users and served shows in installments no longer than 10 minutes.
Quibi’s content library has about 75 shows and documentaries, which will appear for free on the Roku Channel throughout 2021. The deal gives Roku the rights to stream the content only for seven years, after which ownership reverts back to the producers of each show.
The paper speculates the current pandemic may have dampened the appeal for that kind of viewing as people stayed home, but I’d say it’s only a part of the problem. Quibi just wasn’t a service that I felt deserved my attention, despite its unusual format and Hollywood stars.
…but Quibi continue lives on
Paying under $100 million for these shows may be one of the better deals for Roku given that Quibi raised a whopping $1.75 billion from Hollywood studios and investors. Following reports in October 2020 claiming Quibi was on the verge of shutting down, the mobile-focused streaming company discontinued operation after just six months of being in service.
Quibi was founded by film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and led by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman. But after seeing an impressive 1.7 million downloads in its first week of operation, demand for the service was tepid thereafter, and the fact that it started at $5 per month with ads might have had something to do with it.
Quibi had features like AirPlay/Chromecast support, an Apple TV app and more. After launching in April 2020, the short-lived video platform shut down in December of the same year, after just six months of operation, because it fell well short of its subscriber projections.