It looks like streaming hardware maker Roku is set to make the jump into original content. We know this thanks to a job listing for a Lead Production Attorney over on LinkedIn (opens in new tab).
Applications are now closed, but the job description reveals a few key details. Among them is the fact Roku is looking for an attorney for its “original episodic and feature length productions.” Roku doesn’t produce any original content at the moment, so that would mean they're about to start.
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Roku does have plenty of content from others available, as part of the Roku Channel, including the rights to shows developed by the now-defunct Quibi. But we still haven’t seen any shows that Roku has actually produced itself.
This suggests that Roku will be actively involved in the production of said content from day one, rather than just purchasing the rights to existing content — as has been the case with the Roku Channel so far.
We do have some questions about what this might involve, though. Currently the Roku Channel is a free service, with ads, that anyone with a Roku (or Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TVs or the Roku mobile app) can watch. Will things stay that way once original content starts coming, or can we expect to see a premium version of the Roku Channel?
The former may be the case. Roku VP of programming Rob Holmes told Variety (opens in new tab) that "At a very high level, we know that our users engage in a very significant way with free content."
One question for upcoming Roku content is how they will promote it in their devices. One benefit of Roku devices, and the Roku Channel itself, is how they don’t push one company’s content over another’s. It’s all just there, unlike on Amazon Fire TV, which has an interface that’s seemingly dedicated to Prime Video.
If the Roku Channel starts to highlight its own content over others, the company’s relationships with other streaming service’s could take a hit. Amazon still doesn’t have Peacock, and it’s not hard to assume Roku doesn’t want to have a similar problem on its hand, as it only just got the HBO Max app.
It’s unclear how long it would take for Roku to start releasing its own original content anyway, especially with production limits caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. So we’re just going to have to sit back and wait. Let’s just hope we start seeing the Quibi content sooner rather than later.