How things have changed. Now, Netflix has more than 207 million subscribers worldwide who stream its content over the internet. And many in the U.S. watch Netflix and other streaming services using a device or TV from Roku, which has been the leading streaming platform in the U.S. The company added 2.4 million new accounts in the quarter ending March 31, 2021, to hit 53.6 million.
Roku is continuing its mission to be a leading content provider, too. On May 20, the same day Roku celebrates its Streaming Day – when it shipped that first streaming player – the service will make a new wave of content available: the bounty acquired earlier this year from short-lived video streaming company Quibi.
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Roku is new home for Quibi shorts
These new arrivals will be collected under the Roku Originals library, with prominent placement on the Roku Channel. Among the 30 new shows coming to the Roku Channel: "#FreeRayshawn,” which earned short-form Creative Arts Emmy Awards for stars Laurence Fishburne ("John Wick: Chapter 2") and Jasmine Cephas Jones ("Hamilton"); Sophie Turner ("Game of Thrones") in post-plane crash drama "Survive"; and "Most Dangerous Game" starring Liam Hemsworth ("The Hunger Games") and Christoph Waltz ("Spectre").
There's also documentaries "Blackballed" and "Big Rad Wolf," plus reality shows "Chrissy's Court," where Chrissy Teigen presides, and the revived "Punk'd," hosted by Chance the Rapper.
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Kevin Hart hits a double on Roku
Kevin Hart, whose "Die Hart" series is part of the Quibi catalog, will also get a new linear channel featuring content from his LOL! Network among the new Roku Originals. “Our mission is to keep the world laughing, whether that’s through the action and laughs in Die Hart or the best in comedy on LOL! Network, this partnership allows us to further that mission by bringing laughs to millions of viewers on Roku," Hart said in a statement accompanying Roku's announcement.
Even though these 30 titles were previously released on Quibi, it's unlikely they've been widely viewed. Former Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman launched Quibi in April 2020, but closed it down six months later.
There's more to come on Roku Originals, because the streaming company acquired a total of 75 titles from Quibi. Some are unreleased and will be seen for the first time on the Roku Channel, the company's vice president of engagement growth marketing Sweta Patel told USA TODAY.
The Roku Channel, launched in 2017 with free advertising-supported movies and TV episodes. In the case of these new titles, you will see an 8-to-12-minute episode, then an ad, then the next episode. And you don't have to have a Roku device to watch the Roku Channel; just get the Roku mobile app or go to Roku.com.
"We at the Roku Channel believe that we are in this virtuous cycle where more content allows us to have more viewers and more viewers allows us to source unique opportunities for cost-effective content," Patel said. "So we are just building on more and more in a cyclical way."
Roku's Streaming Day deals (good from May 16-29) include $10 off the Roku Streaming Stick+, $30 off the Roku Streambar or Roku Ultra, and $5 off the Roku Express.
By the way, what would become Roku began as a team within Netflix, but CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings decided to spin it off as a separate company, according to a 2013 story in Fast Company, so as not to compete with other hardware makers such as Apple, LG, Samsung and Sony.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Roku adds 30 shows from Quibi deal and Kevin Hart comedies on May 20