With the pact, current seasons of “This Old House” (Season 42) and “Ask This Old House” (Season 19) will be available for free on the Roku Channel as on-demand episodes. New episodes will hit the platform after they air on local PBS stations.
Roku is acquiring all of Stamford, Conn.-based This Old House Ventures’ business. That gives Roku ownership of global distribution rights and all subsidiary brands, including the “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” TV programs, show libraries of more than 1,500 episodes, all digital assets and the company’s TV production studio in Concord, Mass. In addition to the TV programs, the company produces web, social, podcast and print content. (The Roku deal does not include “New Yankee Workshop.”)
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. A source familiar with the pact said Roku is paying under $100 million for This Old House Ventures, buying it from private-equity firm TZP Group (which had acquired it in 2016 from Time Inc.). With the deal, about 55 employees of This Old House Ventures are joining Roku, including CEO Dan Suratt and the team behind the shows.
The deal comes two months after Roku acquired rights to more than 75 original shows from Quibi, the now-defunct startup that was led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, and its hiring of at least five ex-Quibi staffers.
“As we grow, we are looking at these additional opportunities to expand our offering — but we’re making sure it fits within our ad-supported model,” Rob Holmes, Roku’s VP of programming, said in an interview. “These incremental content investments are commensurate with the scale and growth of the Roku Channel.”
This Old House Ventures’ Suratt said in a statement, “The passion of the craftspeople on ‘This Old House’ is matched only by its viewers, and we take great pride that over the past four decades we have helped them improve their most valuable asset — their home. Roku is not only the No. 1 TV streaming platform in America, it also represents the future of TV, and we could not think of a better home for This Old House to grow and to continue its leadership position in the home improvement genre.”
Select “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” episodes and specials are currently available on a wide range of digital platforms, including IMDb TV, PBS.org and the PBS app, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Comcast’s Xumo, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, Fox Corp.’s Tubi, Vizio smart TVs and YouTube.
Holmes said Roku intends to continue to distribute “This Old House” content broadly. “We don’t need it to be exclusive for it to provide value to us,” he said.
“This Old House” first debuted back in 1979. In 2020, “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” were the two top-rated home improvement programs in the U.S., according to Nielsen data, and the shows have amassed a total of 19 Emmy Awards and 102 Emmy nominations.
According to Holmes, Roku’s strategy to acquire original content like “This Old House” will complement the core programming on the Roku Channel, which encompasses shows and movies from some 175 licensors. While subscription VOD business “require exclusive content on an ongoing basis, we believe that ad-supported models like the Roku Channel thrive with content that is broadly distributed across multiple platforms and services,” he said.
Commenting on the Roku sale, TZP partner Bill Hunscher said the firm “is proud to have been the steward of this wonderful brand over the last five years.”
Hunscher and Harrison Davis led the transaction for TZP. Lazard acted as sole financial adviser to This Old House Ventures on the sale and law firm Greenberg Traurig provided legal counsel. Hogan Lovells is legal adviser to Roku on the acquisition; the law firm also advised Roku on the Quibi deal.