Roku is evidently gearing up to produce its own original TV shows and movies to bulk up its free, ad-supported VOD business.
The company placed an ad in January seeking a “lead production attorney,” to work on its “expanding slate of original content.” According to the job listing, which was first reported by Protocol and is no longer accepting applicants, Roku was looking for a lawyer with “substantial experience in television and film production either at a studio, network, streaming service or entertainment law firm,” as well as experience working with Hollywood guilds and unions. Reps for Roku didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Roku’s move to staff up an originals team comes after its clinched a deal in early January to acquire global rights to more than 75 of Quibi’s original shows. Roku said it plans to stream those for free in 2021 on the Roku Channel. The company paid “significantly” less than $100 million under the deal with Quibi, the well-funded startup led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman that folded six months after launching after failing to gain traction.
“We believe in this broader AVOD [ad-supported video-on-demand] trend,” Roku VP of programming Rob Holmes told Variety in an interview last month. “At a very high level, we know that our users engage in a very significant way with free content.”
Roku said it had 51.2 million active accounts in the fourth quarter of 2020, and that the Roku Channel reached U.S. households with an estimated 61.8 million people in Q4.
Roku’s job listing for a lead production attorney referenced the company’s “original episodic and feature length productions,” covering aspects of production deals including option purchase agreements and script acquisition agreements; agreements to hire writers, actors, directors and individual producers; production services agreements; and below-the-line agreements including for department heads, location agreements, clearances, prop rental agreements, likeness releases and credit memos.
The job listing also specified a minimum of eight years of “relevant legal experience” and “membership in good standing with the California Bar, or the ability to register as In-House Counsel in California.”