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Roku Changes Course, Plans to Create Original Content for The Roku Channel

Jeff Kotuby

Roku’s pivoting on its plans for its wildly successful free streaming service The Roku Channel. According to Revealera, a data provider for job listings, and first spotted by Protocol, Roku is hiring a lead production attorney. That doesn’t seem like a wildly interesting development — until you go through the job description.

Roku is looking for this person to build out “an expanding slate of original content,” as well as more intricate functions such as interacting with guilds and unions, working on purchase and service agreements, likeness releases, and more. Definitely seems like this position is doing more than going after old shows, doesn’t it?

Combined with Roku’s recent acquisition of Quibi’s entire content library, the company seems to be reversing its stance on original content. In 2019, Roku CEO Anthony Wood mentioned the company had no plans to create original content, instead focusing on licensing existing content for The Roku Channel.

However, it looks like Roku is shifting course. In addition to streaming the content already available on Quibi, more than a dozen new programs that were never released will make their exclusive debut on The Roku Channel in 2021.

These “Roku Originals” will likely find a home on Roku’s booming The Roku Channel, that’s been growing exponentially over the past few years – which at this point has likely over 60 million viewers. Roku recently announced 13 more live channels, bringing its total to over 160.

The company has also expanded the platform to be available on Amazon Fire TV, iOS, and Android devices.

Roku is the latest streaming platform to make the shift to producing original content. Existing titans like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ are powered by their original productions — and the competition is looking to get into the game as well. HBO Max, Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Acesss), Peacock, and discovery+ are all adding original content to their platforms, showing a clear shift from the past, where services simply acquired as many established properties as possible.