Quibi, the startup led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, is in “advanced talks” on a pact with Roku to acquire streaming rights to the Quibi catalog, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. If the deal is consummated, Roku would add the short-form original series to the free, ad-supported Roku Channel.
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Reps for Quibi and Roku declined to comment.
The Journal story didn’t include details about which Quibi shows may be part of the Roku deal or the financial terms. Quibi announced last fall that it planned to wind down operations after failing to attract a sustainable base of subscribers, leaving dozens of Quibi projects in limbo. The streaming app went dark on Dec. 1 less than eight months after launching.
Quibi does not own any of the content it commissioned for the subscription service. The startup had secured seven-year licenses for the short-form series, giving it rights to stream them on its app. After two years, content owners have the right to distribute the shows in a reassembled feature-length format on other platforms.
Shows in Quibi’s portfolio include “Reno 911,” a revival of Comedy Central’s cop spoof; dystopian thriller “Most Dangerous Game,” starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; dark comedy “Flipped” with Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson; plane-crash drama “Survive,” starring Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins; and comedy “Dummy,” starring Anna Kendrick (pictured above) as a woman who befriends her boyfriend’s sex doll.
For Quibi’s “#FreeRayshawn,” a police drama from executive producer Antoine Fuqua, Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones each won short-form acting Emmy Awards.
Quibi had raised $1.75 billion from investors including Disney, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and Sony. It reportedly told backers that the company would return $350 million of its cash on hand to them. The company spent upwards of $6 million per hour of produced content on short-form originals from A-list Hollywood talent including Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Jennifer Lopez, Sam Raimi, Chrissy Teigen, Reese Witherspoon, Antoine Fuqua, Lena Waithe, Kevin Hart and Steven Soderbergh.
Quibi also was paying for news and lifestyle content from partners including NBC News, BBC News, ESPN, Blumhouse, the Weather Channel and CBS (which produced “60 in 6 by CBS News” for the streamer).
As of the third quarter of 2020, Quibi reached 710,000 subscriber households, down from 1.1 million the prior quarter, according to estimates from research firm Kantar. The service had cost $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without ads per month — and amid fierce competition in the streaming space, Quibi couldn’t attract enough paying subs for the mobile-centric app.
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