Roku to Develop More Than 50 Original Shows Over Next Two Years: REPORT

Roku is planning a massive expansion of its original content.

Roku plans to develop more than 50 original shows over the next two years in a bid to drive more customers to its Roku Channel, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The streaming service, which has roughly 155 million customers, has been bulking up the channel’s free library of shows and movies for some time and it is now looking for a way to profit. The company said roughly half of its customer base watches the channel’s free ad-supported shows and movies, which it licenses from more than 200 other media outlets.

Roku is alerting production companies and individual creators that it’s looking for content, and is said to be prioritizing comedies and dramas, with little regard to runtimes. The company is open to half-hour, hour, and feature-length blocks equally, though currently, Roku’s preference is running toward “serialized content.”

The push into original shows is linked in part to the fact that Roku can glean more advertising dollars from titles housed in the Roku Channel. Roku declined to provide insight on how much it would fork over for original shows, but it told The Journal that it would be on par with basic cable shows.

That translates to a $250,000 USD to $750,000 investment per unscripted episode and $500,000 to $5 million per scripted episode, the publication said.

With that kind of original content, it can put itself on the same level as some of the biggest streaming platforms around. Offering that content up for free with ad support only helps matters, especially as other providers raise prices. Some of Roku’s content will do better than others, certainly, but if Roku can manage to strike gold by bringing out one of the next big shows, that will only help.

The last few years have demonstrated the intense value of original content, especially when it’s sufficiently original to draw viewers. Roku may be on to an absolute winning strategy here, and one that could pay dividends for some time to come.