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Roku buys Quibi library, including never-seen Spielberg show

Quibi
(Image credit: Quibi)

Quibi to live another day, as the evanescent streaming service stocked with short-form series ("quick bites") is making a comeback, of sorts, on Roku.

Roku announced today that it has acquired exclusive global distribution rights to Quibi’s content. The 75-plus award-winning shows featuring stars like Chrissy Teigen, Idris Elba, Liam Hemsworth and Anna Kendrick will stream for free on the Roku Channel, with ads, starting sometime this year.

Quibi was founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, who raised $1.75 billion to build the mobile-only platform featuring short-form movies cut into five to 10-minute episodes. Shows could be viewed in horizontal or vertical format with unique "Turnstyle" technology.

The service launched in April but struggled to draw an audience, particularly during a global pandemic that kept people at home and not on the go. Quibi also cost $4.99 per month, while the short-form content on TikTok is free. 

In our Quibi review, senior editor Henry T. Casey wrote, "With the end of Quibi's 90-day trial, I found myself with little reason to keep my subscription."

After six months, in October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Quibi was shutting down, making it one of the biggest tech fails of 2020.

Now, Quibi's shows and movies are moving to Roku. 

The library includes unreleased shows, including Spielberg’s After Dark, a horror series that originally would have streamed only after sunset, and Slugfest, a documentary series about comic books from the Russo Brothers.

The deal between the two companies, which is reportedly worth $100 million, only includes distribution rights. The show creators own their work and licensed Quibi to stream the content for seven years. It's unclear if or how Quibi's turnstyle technology will be displayed on Roku. 

The Roku Channel offers over 40,000 free, ad-supported movies and programs and 150 free live linear television channels. It reaches an estimated 61.8 million people.