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Roku buys majority of Quibi shows, will stream them for free

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi may be dead, but its shows will live on.

Streaming-device maker Roku has snapped up the majority of Quibi’s multi-million dollar library of original short-form programming in a deal that will give new life to Quibi’s star-studded library of shows featuring Kevin Hart, Idris Elba, Jennifer Lopez and Nick Jonas.

Roku on Friday said it nabbed the exclusive global rights to 75 shows from the doomed startup. They will be available to watch this year on the Roku Channel, which is free for Roku consumer and includes a mix of old movies, such as “Inception,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as TV reruns of “The Bachelorette” and “Dennis the Menace.”

Terms of the deal, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this week, were not disclosed.

Variety on Friday said that Roku will acquire shows like dystopian thriller “Most Dangerous Game,” starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; dark comedy “Flipped” with Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson; plane-crash drama “Survive,” starring Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins; comedy “Dummy,” starring Anna Kendrick as a woman who befriends her boyfriend’s sex doll, and “#FreeRayshawn,” a police drama from executive producer Antoine Fuqua, for which Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones each won short-form acting Emmy Awards.

Other Quibi shows heading to Roku could include “Elba vs. Block” starring Idris Elba and stunt driver Ken Block; “Chrissy’s Court,” a “Judge Judy”-style show starring Chrissy Teigen; a reboot of “Punk’d” hosted by Chance the Rapper; and money-giveaway reality show “Thanks a Million” from Jennifer Lopez, Variety said.

The deal could help boost Roku’s already booming business. The streamer this week revealed that its accounts jumped to 51 million in 2020 as home-bound consumers flocked to their TVs for entertainment. That makes Roku the top-streaming platform along with Amazon Fire TV.

In order to continue its growth, Roku is focusing on amassing new content for its platform and free channel.

“Today’s announcement marks a rare opportunity to acquire compelling new original programming that features some of the biggest names in entertainment,” Roku’s vice president of programming, Rob Holmes said. “We’re excited to make this content available for free to our users in The Roku Channel through an ad-supported model,” Holmes said.

Quibi shut down in October after just six months in existence. The high-profile startup founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg proved the exception to the growing demand for streaming as the coronavirus prompted more people to sit in front of their TVs instead of their phones.

Quibi’s short-form videos were geared toward people on-the-go to watch while waiting in line for a coffee or in the elevator. But after raising a massive $1.75 billion, it went forward with its April launch despite the pandemic limiting people from commuting to work.

The company cited slumping demand for its videos for its swift demise. Critics, however, pointed to a slew of unrelated problems that included difficulties of launching a new, unknown service in an already competitive streaming landscape with limited content.

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