It’s about nine months too late, but you’ll soon finally be able to watch Quibi shows on your television. Via Deadline, Roku has acquired 75 titles from the Quibi library that will stream for free with commercials on the Roku Channel.
Quibi launched last April with a billion dollars in funding and a dream: to reinvent streaming with “quick bites” of content beamed straight to your mobile phone. The platform’s hopes of gripping an on-the-go populace with ten-minute stories quickly came up against the pandemic; suddenly with too much time on their hands, the target audience was craving binge-watching marathons, not short chapters. Worse, Quibi wasn’t compatible with streaming hardware like Rokus or Amazon Fire TV, which meant people trapped on the couch couldn’t watch it on their TVs. Quibi closed six months after it launched.
Now, however, the Quibi library — as uninspiring a lineup as that may be — has found a new home at Roku. The streaming platform will air the shows (minus Quibi’s daily news programs) on the Roku Channel, marking the first “original content” to appear on the free, ad-supported channel. That’s a huge win for Roku’s flagship channel, which currently looks like a bargain DVD bin offering old series (Bewitched, Magnum P.I.), newer reality TV (Hoarders, Married at First Sight), and respectable films that don’t have a lot of buzz anymore (Under the Tuscan Sun, My Little Pony: The Movie). Thanks to the Quibi content, the channel will now be able to offer programming like Reno 911, Most Dangerous Game starring Liam Hemsworth, and Sam Raimi’s 50 States of Fright.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, though Quibi’s investors probably hoped to find a buyer with deeper-pockets than Roku. Still, it gives the content a chance to reach a growing audience; the Roku Channel launched in 2017 and was viewed by an estimated 61.8 million people in 2020, double the number who tuned in the year before.
Roku VP of Programming Rob Holmes praised Quibi’s “top talent and high-quality content,” and explained how the shortform series would work in a more traditional streaming setting:
“It’s the same availability of content, the same presentation of content. But as we spent a bunch of time with it, it really works, but they’re just TV episodes. I think their premise was, you have 10 minutes, you would watch it. Our view is, this is TV, someone’s going to spend half an hour or an hour or two hours watching it because it’s just that compelling… You don’t usually see content like this for free in streaming.”
Under terms of the deal, Roku will honor Quibi’s creator-friendly content deals that see rights to the shows revert back to their creators after seven years. Roku will also not receive Quibi’s proprietary technology, such as their Turnstyle viewing interface.