Much like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Quibi is not dead yet. The ill-advised streaming service that raised $1.75 billion for shows with episodes that were only 5-10 minutes long (“quick bites” if you will) formally shut down in December after, well, nobody signed up. But the content that was made for Quibi will live on, as Roku announced today that it has acquired exclusive global distribution rights to the Quibi portfolio.
The deal brings almost every Quibi show into the Roku fold, except for some daily news programs, but in a bit of a twist Roku will honor the original deal that Quibi made with its creators. Quibi head Jeffrey Katzenburg lured A-list talent by promising that the rights to each creator’s show would revert back to them after seven years – meaning after seven years, no matter what, they would own their own show. That will stay in place with Roku, so if you’re positively itching to watch Quibi content for a decade, you may want to frontload it in the first seven years or so.
Starting later this year, Quibi shows will be available for free on Roku with ads, and will be on the Roku Channel.
Quibi was, in theory, a pretty bone-headed idea. Katzenberg‘s big bet was that people wanted to watch content on their phones on their way to work, so he created movies and shows that were meant to be viewed in 5-10 minute chunks on a cell phone. Quibi launched just as the pandemic began, but even without the pandemic I’m dubious enough people would have wanted to sign up for a streaming service like this. They’re more than content re-watching the same The Office episode they’ve seen 10 times before while riding the subway.
Some of Quibi‘s shows were fun. The comedic delights of Paula Pell were on full display in Mapleworth Murders, The Stranger was a pretty thrilling psychological thriller starring Dane DeHaan and Mia Wasikowska, and the cooking competition show Dishmantled remains one of the most insane reality shows I’ve ever seen – food is literally blasted into a contestant’s face and they must guess what that food was.
So there you have it. Quibi may be gone, but its content will survive on Roku.