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Roku nears deal to buy rights to Quibi’s content: WSJ

According to the Wall Street Journal, Roku is nearing a deal to buy the content catalog of Quibi, although the specific details and financial terms of the proposed deal have not been revealed. The short-form mobile streaming platform launched in April 2020 before shuttering in December.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: 2020, interesting year for the streaming world. We saw Disney+ enjoy a full year of existence. We also saw the launch of Quibi, a company that kind of came and went, raised a lot of money, had some buzzy names behind it, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meg Whitman. And then it just sort of shut down because, as someone put it, well, we already are on our phones all the time, I'm not sure why six-minute videos were going to be a big opportunity there. Dan Roberts joins us now to talk about what might happen to all that content, Dan, that Quibi made and that no one actually saw.

DAN ROBERTS: Well, Myles, someone was going to buy the content when Quibi shut down. Someone is going to buy it. I think that was always clear. I bet you they'll get it pretty cheap. And of course, the report today, according to "The Wall Street Journal," is that Roku is in talks to buy all the content, that library of shows that was on Quibi.

Now of course, as we postmortem and pick apart why Quibi didn't work, everyone has their theories. Katzenberg famously said, I blame every bit of our failure on the pandemic. And I don't think that's fair. I've written that a couple times. I don't think you can blame it all on the pandemic.

I think, as you mentioned, maybe people just weren't looking to watch 10-minute TV shows on their phones. But we'll never really know since Quibi's timing was so unlucky launching into the pandemic. Now we will get a sense of whether the shows were actually good or, I should say, even whether there were any good shows in the library.

You know, did Quibi fail because there were no must-watch shows? Or did it fail because no one was even downloading it and trying it so no one knew whether the shows were good? And certainly with its $1.75 billion in funding, Quibi had produced a number of shows with some big, big names. I mean, Chrissy Teigen, Liam Hemsworth.

There were a number of kind of high-profile actors who had filmed entire "shows" for Quibi. And when Quibi shut down, many of those shows hadn't run their full seasons. So now we're going to find out whether people want to watch these shows. Because if it is Roku, they're going to go in Roku.

And of course, as the "Journal" theorizes, and I think this is probably a good bet, it's likely that Roku might put these shows, which would obviously become exclusive to Roku, within its Roku channel, which has been a little bit of a source of controversy. I mean, the reason that it took so long to get Peacock and to get HBO Max on Roku was because of these negotiations that Roku requires involving ad sales and movies within its Roku channel. So this might be a way for Roku to boost eyeballs for that channel on which it's all Roku's own content and Roku sells the ads.

MYLES UDLAND: It's funny. In business and in life, no one is ever happy just doing the thing they do well. Roku is very good at distributing content, but now they also want to own content. And we see the content creators want to now become content distributors. Of course, very different muscles to flex. And we'll sort of see how that evolves over time. All right, Dan Roberts, thanks for joining the show.