Rebranding Former Quibi Content as Roku Originals Paying Off For The Roku Channel
Roku has found a clear path to success with its Ad-Supported Video-on-Demand (AVOD) service, The Roku Channel, which appears to be driving numbers. Last year, after Quibi went down after its short eight-month run. In January, Roku decided to take a chance on Quibi's failure and gave 75 titles a new home as originals on The Roku Channel.
In May, the newly rebranded Roku Originals hit the platform and proved to be a huge success. Now, Roku has 53.6 million active accounts.
The first two weeks after Roku added 30 of Quibi’s titles to its library show just how wise this move was. In just two weeks, more active accounts had streamed the content on The Roku Channel in comparison with Quibi’s numbers over eight months.
During the first two weeks that the former Quibi content was available on The Roku Channel, more than one in three users streamed an original series. On average, the viewers watched more than nine episodes. These impressive numbers also led to Roku bringing Die Hart, which features Kevin Hart, back for a second season.
Rob Holmes, VP of Programming at Roku, spoke with Adweek. He said, “We’re really excited about it coming out of the gates here, and certainly it opens up a new avenue of growth and a new way to bring great, compelling content to our users.”
There are a few reasons why viewers may be more drawn to Roku than Quibi. For one, Quibi was only available on mobile, while Roku is available on TV. Holmes said the “vast majority” of Roku’s streamed hours come from TVs. “Ultimately these are TV shows, and people like watching TV on the big screen in the living room, so I think that’s another element,” Holmes said. “Another huge switch was we made it free.”
The Roku Channel is a free live TV streaming service that provides 200+ live linear streaming channels and more than 80,000 free movies and TV shows. The library contains entertainment from several different decades, including some major hits.
The service also made a splash by the acquisition of the Quibi library, now presented as Roku Originals. More original content is set to follow.
Users can add premium subscriptions to services like Showtime, STARZ, and AMC+ that can be accessed within the Roku Channel ecosystem.
MoffettNathanson senior analyst Michael Nathanson offers additional insight into The Roku Channel’s success. Streaming is a highly competitive market, and companies are finding ways to keep consumers coming back for more. Nathanson thinks that The Roku Channel’s original content encourages viewers to keep watching.
“That’s their future monetization growth,” Nathanson said. “As more media companies take back their own content—you’ve seen WarnerMedia now [merging] with Discovery; you’ve seen Amazon buy MGM—Roku needs more original content in order to stand out and to monetize and to build impressions.”
While The Roku Channel isn’t the only AVOD streaming service, it looks like it’s ahead of the pack. “It’s made investments in trying to build out a better dynamic ad insertion mousetrap,” Nathanson said. “They’re putting pieces together to be a better monetizing company than their competitors.” He thinks that original content is a key strategy that other AVOD services will need to lean into. Fox’s Tubi and Amazon’s IMDb TV both have announced plans for creating original content going forward.
“[Roku’s] first-party data and data gathering is quite good. And I think what they see going forward is that they can do more targeted media,” Nathanson said. “Those other AVOD services are going to have to catch up a bit on their ability to really target.”
Quibi’s content was a great start, but now Roku wants to create original content for The Roku Channel. “We saw this opportunity to really aggregate content for consumers to make it easy for them to find,” Holmes said. “We’re going to continue to pursue an expansive strategy around the content that we acquire. It’s a great way for those partners who maybe don’t have their own direct-to-consumer capabilities or don’t want to invest in their own direct-to-consumer capabilities to participate in the streaming ecosystem.”