Roku, in its latest bid to pack more exclusive content into The Roku Channel, landed a deal with Saban Films giving the streaming platform pay-one window streaming rights to a select batch of movies from the boutique film acquisition and distribution company’s current slate.
It’s the first pay-one licensing agreement for Roku, making The Roku Channel the exclusive North American streaming home for some Saban movies about three months after they premiere in theaters. Roku has a 24-month exclusive streaming window on the films.
The deal covers fewer than a dozen titles from Saban Films, representing about one-third of the company’s 2021 film slate.
Saban’s first film to premiere on The Roku Channel will be crime drama “Echo Boomers” (pictured above), starring Michael Shannon and Patrick Schwarzenegger, coming to the free, ad-supported platform on June 15. Future films under the deal include “Happily” starring Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé; “Percy vs Goliath” (U.S. only) starring Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci and Zach Braff; and “Under the Stadium Lights” starring Laurence Fishburne and Milo Gibson.
“These are higher-caliber, more recent movies,” said Rob Holmes, Roku’s VP of programming. “We continue to look at ways to level-up our content offering, with more choices and more notable offerings… We are always looking proactively to what pieces of the puzzle we can add.”
Roku is “taking a balanced approach” to content acquisition, Holmes said — admitting that the company is not seeking “the brightest, shiniest, most expensive things.” Content owners who don’t have their own streaming outlet are finding it “increasingly compelling to license their content to The Roku Channel,” Holmes added. “They’re finding it’s a great way to participate in the upside of streaming.”
Saban Films president Bill Bromiley said in a statement, “Streaming has become an incredible way to experience moviemaking magic from the comfort of your own home, and we are thrilled to bring an extraordinary lineup of entertainment to The Roku Channel and America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform.”
Saban Films senior VP of distribution, sales and marketing Jonathan Saba negotiated the deal with Roku.
In the first quarter of 2021, The Roku Channel reached U.S. households with an estimated 70 million people — more than doubling year over year.
Roku has been opportunistically vacuuming up content to fuel The Roku Channel’s growth. On May 20, Roku debuted the first batch of Roku Originals — a collection of 30 shows originally produced for the now-defunct startup Quibi. Roku paid substantially less than $100 million for the Quibi assets, including rights to more than 75 shows, including some that never premiered. In March, bought the company that produces “This Old House” for $98 million, a deal that included a library of more than 1,500 episodes.
The Roku Channel, available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., includes content licensed from more than 175 partners. The U.S. lineup includes more than 40,000 free movies and TV shows and 190-plus free live linear channels.
L.A.-based Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Group.