Rumors started doing the rounds earlier this week that Roku would potentially buy the rights to Quibi's content and it turns out that's precisely what's happening. On Friday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that Roku has bought Quibi's content... and at a bargain-basement price. The shows will appear on Roku's ad-supported channel and will run in Quibi's signature short-form presentation.
On Twitter, Roku tweeted a summoning circle with candle emojis, saying, "Hope this works." In the center of the circle, the company tagged Quibi. Quibi, which shut down last year after humiliating reception from the public and little to no interest from buyers to own its catalog of short-form shows, responded, "You have awakened me from my slumber!" Here's what happens now.
What a bargain — Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman's ill-conceived streaming video app Quibi raised almost $2 billion in funding, which it then used to create content with the unique selling point (ostensibly) that the shows would be short and you'd be able to watch them in landscape or portrait mode. It turned out there was no appetite for either short shows or the ability to change your screen's orientation.
We previously reported on Quibi Holdings LLC undergoing a shutdown after it became painfully clear the service simply didn't enough appeal to compete with the likes of Netflix, HBO, Apple, NBCUniversal, and others.
Despite Quibi plowing through $2 billion, Roku has managed to pay less than $100 million for the failed service's catalogs. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports a source said the amount paid was "significantly" lower than $100 million.
Roku will now have exclusive rights to Quibi's 75 shows and documentaries for the remainder of Quibi's two-year window of exclusivity with the creators behind them. Thereafter, Roku will be able to use the content until 2027.
An ignominious end — Quibi, hounded by accusations of leaking user emails to ad agencies and manipulating employees with low pay, arguably deserved to die a terrible death. It'll go down in business textbooks as an example of hubris and how to squander investor money on a bad idea. But the content itself doesn't deserve the same fate. Roku giving it a second life is a fitting bookend to one of the streaming sector's greatest cautionary tales.