Quibi content has a new home after the much-hyped streaming startup flamed out last year. Roku announced on Friday that it has acquired Quibi’s global distribution rights, and will stream the now-defunct service’s short-form videos for free (with ads) through The Roku Channel. The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin reports that Roku paid less than $100 million for Quibi’s content rights.
Before it even launched in 2020, Quibi had raised $1.75 billion in venture capital. Founder-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman believed that millennials would pay a premium for professionally produced content on their phones; their star status helped the service attract investors and build an immense amount of press hype. In the end, the service fell well short of its subscriber goals, perhaps because people were content to watch regular-sized videos on their televisions at home during the pandemic. (The second-rate nature of Quibi’s content didn’t help either.)
But beyond just being a sad coda to a tale of Hollywood hubris, the acquisition also represents a new chapter for Roku, which has long touted itself as a neutral party in the streaming wars. By acquiring Quibi content, Roku is making a bite-sized foray into original programming—something the company once said it would not do—and underscores how Roku is trying to build up The Roku Channel to compete with other streaming services. Roku estimates that The Roku Channel reached 61.8 million people last quarter.