Roku started out primarily as a maker of DVRs back when such boxes were still en vogue. It then moved on to producing set-top boxes dedicated to streaming services but those are now a dime a dozen. Since then, Roku has relied heavily on its advertising business to keep its name from being pushed into the background but it might soon need to find ways to attract more advertisers and users willing to sit through those ads. Unsurprisingly, its strategy is to create original and potentially exclusive content, a path that may have started with its acquisition of Quibi.
Quibi itself was an unfortunate victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its goal was to popularize short-form videos made specifically for streaming on mobile devices and not much else. The coronavirus messed up schedules and put restrictions on the production of original content and the service shut down just six months after it launched. Of course, Roku’s surprise acquisition already hinted at its original content ambitions, but it would be only now that such was put on paper, so to speak.
A job list for a “lead production attorney” is perhaps the most concrete evidence so far that Roku has plans to expand a “slate of original content”. More than just purchasing existing content to be streamed exclusively on Roku’s platform, the listing talks about acquiring scripts, hiring writers and actors, making location and production services agreements, and other activities associated with actually producing content rather than buying them.
Protocol theorizes that this content, should they come, will most likely be made available on the Roku Channel. This is the free streaming service that the company is supporting with ads, its biggest cash cow so far. Quibi’s exact role in this original content production has yet to be revealed.
Even with its industry clout, Roku will be entering an already congested and fiercely competitive market. Even Apple seemed to be having problems taking a large piece of the pie, unlike fellow newcomer Disney+. It will, of course, still depend on what kind of content Roku has in mind and the talent it will be able to bring in, which could still be months away from even becoming an official thing.