DreamWorks co-founder unveils Quibi, newest streaming service

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Katzenberg and Whitman to bring Quibi to a phone near you
Image: WndrCo

Last weekend, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman made a game-changing announcement at the Produced by Conference. The two executives have teamed up to start Quibi, a new short-form subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform. The new service will launch in April 2020 and will give consumers access to 7,000 videos for $4.99 a month.

Notably, Quibi will only be accessible on mobile devices.

Quibi’s Content Library

Quibi, a portmanteau for “quick bite,” will feature an impressive array of short TV and movie content at launch.

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  • Legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg will write a new horror anthology series that can only be viewed at night.
  • “Lighthouses”: Acclaimed directors Steven Soderbergh and Paul Feig will make 2 to 4-hour movies for the platform that will be released in 7 to 10-minute increments.
  • “Daily Essentials”:  a 6 and a half minute news program that the service will broadcast three times a day.
  • An unnamed eight-episode stock car show featuring Idris Elba and rally car driver Ken Block.
  • #Freerayshawn”: a 2 ½ hour crime drama produced by Antoine Fuqua. The serial, which stars Lawrence Fishburne and Stephan James, follows an Iraq war vet who has a confrontation with the New Orleans SWAT team.
  • Horror maestros Guillermo del Toro and Sam Raimi will produce new shows for the service. Del Toro is developing a modern zombie tale. And Raimi is producing a new serial called “50 States of Fear.”
  • Chrissy’s Court”: model and Twitter sensation Chrissy Teigen will adjudicate real small claims cases.
  • You Ain’t Got These”: Emmy Award-winner Lena Waithe stars and produces a docuseries about contemporary sneaker culture.
  • Quibi is reviving old-school MTV classics “Singled Out” and “Punk’d” for new 20-episode seasons.
  • Frat Boy Genius”: a “Social Network” style take on the founding of Snapchat.
  • A philanthropic-themed reality show produced by Jennifer Lopez.
  • Don’t Look Deeper”: a science-fiction program starring Don Cheadle from filmmaker Catherine Hardwick.

It’s Not TV; It’s Quibi

According to Vanity Fair, Katzenberg and Whitman have a deep war chest to launch their new venture. In addition to $1 billion in seed funding, the company has also received another $1 billion investment from corporations like Viacom, Disney, and Alibaba. As such, the startup has been able to secure the talents of several award-winning Hollywood heavyweights.

The company has also drawn in A-list creators because of its unique production deal. Quibi is financing the creation of various movie and TV show content in exchange for a seven-year exclusive licensing agreement. But after two years, the studios and producers of its programming can edit their work into feature-length properties to be distributed through other channels.

However, in an increasingly crowded streaming video landscape, Quibi needs more than quality programming to stand out. The platform founders know this and aren’t attempting to position their service as a competitor to Netflix or Hulu. Instead, Katzenberg compared it to a digital video version of a Dan Brown novel, where expansive stories unfold in bite-size increments.

By launching with a diverse library of 7,000 videos and a consumer-friendly monthly price point ($4.99 with ads, $7.99 without), the service has a good chance of connecting with consumers. Indeed, as the average smartphone owner watches 70 minutes of video daily,  the platform’s premium content might find an audience. However, by the time it goes live, Disney Plus, Apple TV, and AT&T’s new WarnerMedia SVOD service will have been active for months.

Consequently, the triple threat of fierce competition, unconventional format, and lack of older programming may doom Quibi before it gets started.