As more original content moves to streaming, The Roku Channel is set to be the home to the U.S. premiere of a scripted series, Cypher, on March 19.
The move underscores the question of whether Roku aims to make money working with programmers as the top streaming platform, or if it has ambitions to become a programmer itself through The Roku Channel.
Roku acquired the right to stream content created for Quibi in January. And job postings in February seemed to indicate the company was staffing up to produce original shows.
Now it is pulling out the stops to prompt Cypher, a seven-episode action drama about a top FBI cryptanalyst that will appear exclusively on The Roku Channel.
“As The Roku Channel continues to grow, we’re constantly looking for ways to elevate the streaming experience for our viewers and get them to great entertainment easily and for free,” said Sweta Patel, VP of engagement growth marketing at Roku. “Because of The Roku Channel’s incredible reach, Cypher has the ability to be streamed by millions of engaged viewers.”
More shows may be on the way.
“We are constantly seeking licensing deals to deliver incredible free content to our users,” said Rob Holmes, VP, programming at Roku.
“Roku’s exceptional audience scale and monetization capabilities have enabled us to rapidly grow The Roku Channel into one of the top AVOD channels on our platform today, more than doubling audience reach and streaming hours year-over-year in 2020," Homes said. “Our partnership with Aroma Studios and United Bros for the exclusive licensing and premiere of Cypher aligns with our broader AVOD content strategy that will continue to drive the growth of The Roku Channel going forward."
The Roku Channel’s big streaming audience is making it a more attractive destination for programmers and content producers.
“Roku is a pioneer in TV streaming with millions of engaged users. The Roku Channel is a premiere destination for streaming entertainment because of the scale and diversity of its audience,” said Cypher executive producer and showrunner Zeus Zamani.
Justin Jones, Cypher’s producer, added “We are absolutely thrilled that viewers in the U.S. and Canada will get to see Cypher for the first time on The Roku Channel.”
Cypher follows Will Scott, a top FBI cryptanalyst who is enlisted to decode a document that turns out to be a hitlist.
The show appeared on Netflix in South Africa but will be making its debut in the U.S. and Canada on The Roku Channel.
Cypher stars Martin Dingle Wall, Jaclyn Hales, Mary Helen Schmidt, Lauren Gravitt, Brian Krause, Robert, John Reardon, Eve Mauro and John J. Jordan.
The series was executive produced by Tamer Mortada and written and directed by Majdi Smiri.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.