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Roku Originals are here, but they’re not entirely original

Roku Originals are here, but they’re not entirely original
(Image credit: Roku)

Remember Quibi? No? Well, it doesn't matter. Meet Roku Originals. Roku announced that Roku Originals will be the new brand name for the content from the company's purchase of the Quibi library in January. 

Roku Originals launches in May and eventually will include future original programming created specifically for the Roku Channel. In recent months, Roku has been making moves to add original content to its free, ad-supported outlet. And last month, the Roku Channel debuted its first exclusive licensed series, the FBI drama Cypher.

The Roku Channel has doubled its audience in the last year, with the company reporting it reached U.S. households with an estimated 63 million people in Q4 2020. The channel offers 40,000 free movies and programs and more than 165 free live linear television channels. Current titles in the rotation include classics like Bewitched and more recent hits like The Wolf of Wall Street.

The new Roku Originals brand will kick off with more than 75 Quibi shows, including a dozen unreleased titles. One of those is Steven Spielberg’s After Dark, a horror series intended to stream only after sunset. Another is Slugfest, a documentary series about comic books from the Russo Brothers.

Roku's announcement made it clear that the shows can be viewed on a screen of any size. When Quibi first launched, it was mobile-only (though they later scrambled to make the platform available on TVs). That was just one of the many problems with the doomed streaming service, which ranked among the biggest tech fails of 2020.

But while the app, technology and very premise of Quibi were all dubious, its content was actually pretty good (and even won Emmy awards). Now, those shows have a spiffy new brand and home.

“Every day, millions of viewers turn to The Roku Channel to find quality programming they love,” said Sweta Patel, Vice President of Engagement Growth Marketing, at Roku. “We’re thrilled to introduce this award-winning and diverse portfolio of entertainment under the Roku Originals brand – it's relevant, fun and thought-provoking TV that has something for everyone from the best talent in Hollywood, including Anna Kendrick, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Waithe, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, and Liam Hemsworth. The Roku Channel is the place for incredible, free programming and we are excited to bring this premium content to the biggest screen in the home.”