Chrissy Teigen fans who missed out on Chrissy's Court on Quibi or Kevin Hart fans who did not get to see Die Hart will get their chance thanks to Roku. Quibi, which ceased operations in December, sold its content to Roku, which will distribute more than 75 shows created for the app on its free, ad-supported Roku Channel. The content will be available later this year, Quibi announced Friday.
Financial terms of the deal were not released, but sources told The Los Angeles Times that Roku spent less than $100 million for the shows. That seems minuscule considering how much money founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman raised for the failed venture. They raised $1.75 billion and spent an estimated $100,000 a minute on its shows.
"We think this will be a success for Roku because of Roku's scale," Rob Holmes, vice president of programming at Roku, told the Los Angeles Times. "This kind of new original content — you just don't get it for free in streaming typically. It's a quality TV content." That content includes #FreeRayshawn, a 15-episode series starring Stephan James as an Iraq War veteran hiding from New Orleans police in his apartment. Lawrence Fishburne won an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for the show.
Other Quibi programming includes the anthology horror show 50 States of Fright, Dummy with Anna Kendrick, a reboot of The Fugitive, and a revival of Reno 911!. The platform was also home to Hart's Die Hart, which co-starred John Travolta. Teigen's Chrissy's Court was a court show featuring the Cravings author and her mother, Viailuck Teigen. Chrissy's Court was among the shows Quibi renewed for a second season.
Katzenberg hoped Quibi would be a power player in the streaming world, with 10-minute episodes of original content. Originally, Quibi was only going to be available to watch on phones, but eventually, Quibi had to launch a TV app. The platform struggled to attract subscribers, and plans to shut down were announced just six months after launch. Katzenberg blamed the coronavirus pandemic for its failure, but critics pointed out that the slate of programming never included a must-see show in spite of all the talent he attracted.
Quibi shows will still have their short-form format on the Roku Channel, with advertising following each episode, Holmes told the Times. While adding the shows to the Roku Channel might generate interest for some of the shows, it could be difficult for Roku to commission new episodes. Quibi had a unique deal with creators, which gave creators the rights to their shows after seven years and the right to take their shows to other platforms to create longer versions after two years. Roku has never funded its own content. Holmes said the deal might change that in the future, but not immediately.