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Quibi lives! Roku acquires all content from defunct short-form service, will stream for free

By Josh Weiss

Quibi's existing library of bite-sized content won't be lost to the ages following the streaming platform's premature demise in late 2020.

Variety confirmed Friday morning that Roku has acquired all of the company's programming roster (having expressed interest earlier this month) with the intention of streaming it all for free...with ad breaks, of course. That's over 75 original shows like The Most Dangerous50 States of FrightThe Stranger, Don't Look Deeper, and the homemade recreation of The Princess Bride. Other projects will make their worldwide debut on the Roku Channel, such as the Russo Brothers-produced Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle between Marvel and DC  docuseries and Spielberg's After Dark.

“We do think this deal represents a great value. Fundamentally, we think that Quibi has created great, high-quality content,” Rob Holmes, Roku's VP of Programming, told Variety. “It’s a great value proposition for our users… We’re pivoting from Quibi’s SVOD model to an ad-supported model, and this type of new, original content is not usually available for free ... We believe in this broader AVOD [ad-supported video-on-demand trend]. At a very high level, we know that our users engage in a very significant way with free content.” With the Quibi deal, “We think this pivot form SVOD to AVOD is really compelling.”

“Quibi championed some of the most original ideas and inventive storytelling, and I’m so proud of what I was able to create for the platform,” added Veena Sud, creator, writer, director, and executive producer of The Stranger. “I’m so excited to now be able to share this thriller with millions of streamers on the Roku Channel.”

It's unclear how much Roku paid to gain distribution rights to all of the originals via its purchase of Quibi Holdings LLC. However, Variety does report that the deal will help Quibi recoup some of its financial losses after calling it quits just eight months after its launch in April 2020. For months, company founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman maintained that the platform was suffering as a direct result of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to its shutdown, Quibi had a little less than six million subscribers. For comparison, Roku claims it had 50 million active accounts by the end of last year, with over 60 million people accessing the Roku Channel.

“The most creative and imaginative minds in Hollywood created groundbreaking content for Quibi that exceeded our expectations. We are thrilled that these stories, from the surreal to the sublime, have found a new home on the Roku Channel," Katzenberg said in a prepared statement to Variety.