Roku Originals launched on May 20, with a lineup of about 30 shows initially made for Quibi, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service. From launch through June 3, more Roku active accounts streamed a Roku Original than the number of Quibi accounts that streamed Quibi shows during the start-up’s entire run.
Launched in April 2020 with $1.75 billion in financing, Quibi failed to gain traction with its subscription mobile service, shuttering by the fall. Roku had already been in discussions with Quibi about potential distribution, as the company saw its mobile-only focus floundering, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.
HBO Max Subscribers Confused & Amused By Mysterious ‘Integration Test Email # 1’
Shows featuring Kevin Hart, Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Lopez and other stars were made in a shortened episodic format befitting Quibi’s name, which is short for “quick bites.” Those seven-to-10-minute running times happen to line up well with Roku’s ad breaks.
The company did not offer a specific number for the viewing of originals, but said a record number of accounts watched during the first two weeks of availability. More than one in three users of The Roku Channel streamed a Roku Originals series, with users streaming over nine episodes on average. The Roku Channel reaches households with 70 million people. Roku has about 54 million active accounts.
Roku has not previously offered an estimate for its investment in programming, but insiders familiar with the company’s finances say it is approaching $1 billion in spending on content. That figure covers both library acquisitions and originals. Plans don’t call for a dramatic ramp-up to Netflix levels of financial commitment but even at a more modest level Roku is punching well above its weight. Roku recently ordered a second season of Kevin Hart’s action comedy series Die Hart.
In addition to Quibi, the company has also in recent months acquired the This Old House home improvement brand and set a pay-1 windows deal with Saban Films. It maintains a library of 40,000-plus on-demand film and TV titles on the Roku Channel, which launched in 2017. It also features nearly 200 live linear channels. Most of the programming on the Roku Channel is free and ad-supported, but the platform also enables viewers to sign up for premium services.
Within the Roku Channel, the top 10 most watched programs were all Roku Originals in the May 20-June 3 span, the company said.
The viewing insights come as founder and CEO Anthony Wood appears today at the Tribeca Festival during a sidebar event called Tribeca X. The in-person event blends tech, advertising and entertainment.
“We always believed Roku Originals would perform exceptionally well as free, ad-supported entertainment on The Roku Channel.” Roku VP of programming Rob Holmes said in a press release. “The first two weeks have surpassed our expectations, with millions of people streaming Roku Originals, and provided a further demonstration of The Roku Channel flywheel, with great content driving record engagement that’s appealing to advertisers seeking to reach the streaming audience.”
Roku expects to release an additional 45 Roku Originals this year.