Roku says its pickup of the 75-plus shows from Quibi, the short-lived premium mobile entertainment startup that went belly-up last year, has paid off beyond its expectations. But as with other streaming companies, Roku isn’t divulging specific metrics for the Quibi programming, which it rebranded as Roku Originals.
According to Roku, more active accounts streamed a Roku Original in the first two weeks on the Roku Channel than the number of Quibi accounts did on Quibi over the brief nine months of the app’s lifetime.
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Roku’s claim that more people have already watched Quibi shows on its platform than on Quibi’s now-defunct app seems credible — but it’s not a particularly high bar.
Jeffrey Katzenberg-founded Quibi launched in April 2020, at the front end of the COVID pandemic. In October, the richly funded company — which had banked nearly $1.8 billion from major studios and other investors — said it would shutter the service by the end of 2020, citing lack of traction.
The higher viewing of Quibi content on Roku is a function of Roku’s far bigger reach as well as the fact that the Quibi shows are available free (with ads) on the Roku Channel, whereas Quibi charged a monthly subscription fee. In the first quarter of 2021, the Roku Channel reached an estimated 70 million people in the U.S., Roku estimated. As of the third quarter of 2020, Quibi reached 710,000 subscriber households, according to estimates from research firm Kantar.
With the initial batch of 30 Quibi shows, the Roku Channel saw “record-breaking reach” from May 20-June 3, according to Roku, with more unique accounts streaming the Roku Channel than any other two-week period. All of the top 10 titles on the Roku Channel were Roku Originals during that time span.
In addition, more than one-third of the users who watched the Roku Channel over that two-week period streamed a Roku Originals series — with users on average streaming over nine episodes.
The strong showing for the Quibi originals has already prompted Roku to strike its first renewal: Earlier this month, the company officially ordered a second season of Kevin Hart’s action-comedy series “Die Hart” (which will be called “Die Harter”), after the show delivered what the company claimed was the largest opening weekend in the history of the Roku Channel.
On May 20, Roku added 30 original series to the Roku Channel starring talent like Kevin Hart, Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Lopez. Roku expects to release an additional 45 original series acquired from Quibi later this year.
“The first two weeks have surpassed our expectations, with millions of people streaming Roku Originals, and provided a further demonstration of The Roku Channel flywheel, with great content driving record engagement that’s appealing to advertisers seeking to reach the streaming audience,” Rob Holmes, Roku’s VP of programming, said in a statement.
The lineup of 30 Roku Originals included “Chrissy’s Court,” a “Judge Judy”-style show starring Chrissy Teigen; a reboot of MTV’s “Punk’d” hosted by Chance the Rapper; Jennifer Lopez money-giveaway reality show “Thanks a Million”; and travel series “Cup of Joe” with Joe Jonas. On the scripted front, the shows include “Most Dangerous Game,” a dystopian thriller starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; “Flipped,” a dark comedy with Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson; a remake of “The Fugitive” starring Kiefer Sutherland; and “Dummy,” starring Anna Kendrick as a woman who befriends her boyfriend’s sex doll.
The Quibi deal is part of a ramped-up strategy for Roku to add more exclusive content to the Roku Channel — but without spending the billions that streamers like Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max are.
In May, Roku inked a deal with Saban Films to bring the studio’s feature films directly to the Roku Channel after theatrical release in the pay-TV window, which is the first agreement of its kind for Roku. In March, Roku acquired the company behind “This Old House,” including its library of home improvement programs in the U.S. and a TV production studio.
Pictured above: Kevin Hart in “Die Hart,” a Quibi original series now available on Roku Channel
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