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Good morning, and welcome to 2021.
While many of us would like to cut a clean break with 2020, that won’t be the case for Quibi.
Yes, Quibi, the short-form streaming company started by former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and helmed by Meg Whitman that announced plans to wind down in October some six months after its launch, is reportedly seeking to sell its content catalog to connected TV company Roku, per the Wall Street Journal.
The maker of smart TV devices is seeking to bolster its own roster of content and specifically attract users with exclusive content in what seems like a necessity in today’s content wars.
The key question is this: How much will Roku offer for Quibi’s content catalog? While Quibi raised $1.75 billion total, only early investors are expected to receive some $350 million of those funds back. Later investors are watching to see if they can recoup some of their losses as Quibi sells its assets to those like Roku. (Pegasus Tech Ventures General Partner Anis Uzzaman, for instance, will get none of the $350 million, but hopes to get back some of his $35 million from such sales.) Buuuuut not all buyers have liked the content the Katzenberg-backed shop has produced: Other potential buyers have reportedly passed on Quibi’s earlier overtures for selling its shows, including NBCUniversal and Facebook.
Personally, I can’t see Quibi’s content driving users to Roku the way The Mandalorian has done for Disney’s streaming platform. One thing I’d bet on, however, is that Roku’s name is about to get a lot louder in the streaming wars. Roku—now the largest distributor of streaming apps—has seen its stock rise 136% in 2020, making it a $41 billion company.
CONTENT IS KING: In case you missed it, Amazon last week announced plans to acquire podcast startup Wondery as media companies seek to distinguish themselves with audio content. While Amazon did not disclose the size of the deal, reports peg the deal at about $300 million, surpassing Spotify’s $230 million acquisition of Gimlet Media in 2019. The maker of titles including “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death” has reportedly garnered interest from names including Apple and Sony Music Entertainment.
Also gliding under the radar in this story: Earlier this year, federal prosecutors accused Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez and another former 21st Century Fox executive of participating in a bribery scheme to secure broadcasting rights for the World Cup—rights that had belonged to ESPN. Lopez has denied the charges and vowed to fight them.