Roku’s first exclusive series to arrive on the Roku Channel will premier this month.
The streamer acquired exclusive rights to Cypher, a crime-thriller starring Martin Dingle Wall that centers on a cryptanalyst commissioned by the FBI to help decode an encrypted hit list. To be clear, it’s not a Roku original. Roku didn’t produce it but instead acquired the rights to stream it exclusively in the U.S. and Canada, and the company told Gizmodo it is the first time the series will have been available to those audiences.
The series is being licensed through a partnership with Aroma Studios and United Bros. When asked whether the series will be licensed to other streamers down the road, a spokesperson said that it is licensed to the Roku Channel “for the time being” and is one part of a “broader AVOD content strategy that will continue to drive the growth of The Roku Channel going forward.” The series will be free on the Roku Channel when it debuts March 19, and all seven episodes will be made available at once.
Licensing a show for its streaming service jibes with Roku’s content strategy so far, as the company acquired much of Quibi’s content after that short-lived service folded last year. That content will also appear on the Roku Channel and be free, though it will be ad-supported. When asked whether Roku plans to develop its own content for the platform, a spokesperson said only that the company is “always looking for ways to bring more compelling content to the millions of viewers who enjoy The Roku Channel for free.”
Still, that’s not to say that Roku wouldn’t develop its own originals down the line, and there have been murmurs that the company has explored such a content avenue. On top of that, a recent LinkedIn posting for a Lead Production Attorney with the company stated the role would “work on its expanding slate of original content,” though the company declined to comment last month when asked about the listing.
In any event, it’s probably safe to assume we’re going to start hearing more about exclusive series or films featured on The Roku Channel, licensed or otherwise. Everybody wants a cut of the streaming pie, and Roku’s clearly no exception.