In late 2020, the streaming platform Quibi announced it was shutting down just six months after its launch. However, just a few months later, the venue was revived by a group of investors who acquired its assets and rebranded it as “Roku Originals.” The new platform launched with a $100 million budget for original content, and Quibi 100M Roku ChannelStreetJournal was there to cover the launch.
Background on Quibi
Quibi was founded in 2018 by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former CEO of DreamWorks Animation, and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of HP. The platform designers aimed to offer short-form videos (between 7 and 10 minutes long) for on-the-go viewing, with content in various genres, including news, sports, and entertainment. The creators of Quibi believed that people want to watch videos on their phones while waiting in line or riding the bus and need the attention span for longer videos.
Despite raising $1.75 billion in funding, Quibi struggled to gain traction after its launch in April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to its demise, as people stayed home and had more time for longer-form content. Additionally, the platform faced competition from established players like Netflix and Hulu and newer entrants like Disney+ and Apple TV+.
The acquisition and rebranding
In January 2021, Quibi announced that it was shutting down and would return $350 million of the $1.75 billion it had raised to its investors. However, a few months later, Roku announced that it had acquired the rights to Quibi’s content library, trademark, and patent portfolio. The company said it planned to launch a new platform called “Roku Originals,” featuring original content from the Quibi library.
Roku also announced that it had hired some of Quibi’s former employees, including content and marketing executives, to help with the transition. Additionally, Roku said it would allocate a budget of $100 million for original content on the platform.
The launch of Roku Originals
In May 2021, Roku launched Roku Originals, which features 30 original shows and movies from the Quibi library. The shows cover a range of genres, including comedy, drama, and reality TV, and feature well-known actors like Anna Kendrick, Chrissy Teigen, and Kevin Hart.
The media covered the launch extensively, including Quibi 100M Roku ChannelStreetJournal, which wrote a detailed article about the platform and its content. The report highlighted that the producers initially produced the shows on Roku Originals for mobile viewing but later re-edited them for the TV screen.
The article also noted that Roku Originals would be accessible to Roku users, but the platform would be ad-supported. However, users could pay for an ad-free version of the medium through a subscription service called Roku Premium.
Reaction to the launch
Critics and viewers had mixed reactions to the launch of Roku Originals. Some praised the platform for its unique content and the fact that it was free, while others criticized it for the quality of its shows and the fact that it was ad-supported.
One common complaint was that the shows on Roku Originals were too short, even for short-form content. Some viewers felt they needed more time to get invested in the characters or the storylines before the episode ended.
However, others felt that the short-form format was a refreshing change from the longer, more drawn-out shows on other platforms. They appreciated that they could watch an entire episode in a few minutes rather than committing to a longer show. Additionally, some viewers enjoyed the fact that they could watch the shows on their phones or tablets and their TVs.
Critics also noted that some of the shows on Roku Originals were better than others. Viewers praised some performances, like “Die Hart” starring Kevin Hart, for their humor and action while criticizing others for their lack of originality or poor execution.
Despite the mixed reactions, Roku Originals is gaining some traction. According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, the platform’s shows have been streamed over 1 billion times since their launch, and some of the shows, like “Dummy” starring Anna Kendrick, have been renewed for a second season.
The future of Roku Originals
As the streaming landscape continues to evolve, whether Roku Originals can compete with established players like Netflix and Hulu remains to be seen. However, the fact that the platform is free and ad-supported may give it an edge, particularly among budget-conscious viewers.
Additionally, Roku has hinted that it may continue to invest in original content for the platform. In an interview with Variety, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said that the company was open to producing more original content but would focus on quality over quantity.
The Challenges of Short-Form Content
One of the main challenges Quibi faced during its initial launch was creating compelling content in a short-form format. While some shows could make the most of the design, others needed help to fully develop characters and storylines that could be presented in a few minutes. This challenge has continued with the launch of Roku Originals, as some viewers have complained that the shows are too short of engaging fully.
The Potential of Ad-Supported Platforms
While some viewers have criticized the ad-supported model of Roku Originals, others see it as a potential way to make streaming more accessible to a broader audience. With subscription prices for platforms like Netflix and Hulu continuing to rise, an ad-supported model may be a way to offer quality content to viewers who cannot afford to pay for multiple subscriptions.
The Importance of Original Content
As more and more platforms enter the streaming market, the importance of original content has become increasingly apparent. With so much competition, platforms must offer shows and movies that viewers cannot find anywhere else. The $100 million budget for original content on Roku Originals is a sign that the platform is taking this seriously and is willing to invest in content that can set it apart.
The Future of Mobile Viewing
While saving the platform required more than the short-form format of Quibi, the idea of mobile viewing remains essential. As more and more people use their phones and tablets to watch videos, media that can offer quality content optimized for mobile viewing may have an advantage.
The Importance of Marketing
The failure of Quibi has been attributed, at least in part, to a lack of effective marketing. While the content may have been compelling, the platform needed help to attract viewers already invested in other streaming services. Roku Originals is taking a different approach, focusing on promoting the platform to Roku users and leveraging the built-in audience of the Roku platform. If this strategy proves successful, it could serve as a model for other platforms looking to break into the crowded streaming market.
The launch of Roku Originals, featuring content from the former Quibi platform, was covered extensively by media outlets like Quibi 100M Roku ChannelStreetJournal. While the platform has received mixed reactions from critics and viewers, it has gained some traction, and shows like “Dummy” have been renewed for a second season. As the streaming landscape continues to evolve, whether Roku Originals can compete with established players like Netflix and Hulu remains to be seen. Still, its free, ad-supported model may give it an edge.
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