Everything to know about Quibi, the buzzy video startup that has raised $1.4 billion — from its marketing strategy to its revenue breakdown
Quibi, a buzzy mobile-video startup that raised $1.4 billion ahead of launch, offered on Wednesday a first look at its forthcoming subscription service. Ahead of the event, Quibi execs spoke with Business Insider about how the company secured $150 million in ad revenue pre-launch, its millennial-focused marketing strategy, and how it will measure success. Quibi launches on April 6. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Quibi, a buzzy mobile-video startup from veteran Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and seasoned tech exec Meg Whitman, offered on Wednesday at the CES electronics expo a first look at its forthcoming subscription service. Ahead of the event, Quibi execs including Whitman, the CEO; Katzenberg, the founder and chairman; Tom Conrad, chief product officer; and Rob Post, chief technology officer, spoke with Business Insider about their plans. The company, which has raised $1.4 billion in funding, will introduce on April 6 a new kind of streaming service that offers 10-minute installments — or "quibis," short for "quick bites" — of programming made only for smartphones, for $8 per month, or $5 with ads. Its first big marketing challenge will be explaining to its target audience of 25- to 35-year-olds what exactly Quibi is, and why they should pay for it on top of Netflix, Disney Plus, and any other services they subscribe to. Quibi is using social-media and digital marketing to advertise its service to millennials, where they're already spending time on smartphones. Most of Quibi's ad buys will be for digital. "You fish for where the fish are," Katzenberg said. "The social-media platforms today, which is where people are in fact spending a good deal of time, is where the biggest focus of our marketing will be. And that's where we'll be spending most of our money." Read the full story: Inside the marketing strategy for Quibi, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman's buzzy video startup that has raised $1.4 billion It's unclear what the market is for minutes-long episodes of shows and movies that users can only watch on their phones. But advertisers seem to be on board. Quibi said in October that it booked $150 million in advertising, selling out the platform's first full year of inventory months ahead of launch. Whitman told Business Insider that Quibi won over top advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Pepsi with the allure of millennial audiences in a brand-safe environment and the advancement of mobile entertainment and ad formats. "They also believe that the next big revolution in entertainment really should be on the mobile phone, so the idea about creating and commissioning shows uniquely designed for mobile is super interesting to them," Whitman said of advertisers. Quibi showed off at CES a new feature that it hopes will be a game changer for both advertisers and storytellers. It's called "turnstyle," and it allows viewers to move between portrait and landscape orientations by rotating their smartphones. Read the full story: Quibi's CEO explains the video startup's business model and how it booked $150 million in advertising revenue before launch Quibi execs will pay close attention to how people use the "turnstyle" feature once the platform launches. The company will also evaluate the service using metrics like paid net subscribers and the number of videos that people watch. The service will set itself apart from other streamers, in part, by allowing its content to react to smartphone data. For example, one Quibi series, "After Dark," from Steven Spielberg, will only be available to watch after the sunsets where the phone is located. "I'm talking about, in real time, the phone telling the piece of content, what time it is, what the weather is, what the lighting conditions are, and letting the piece of creative react to that in the same way the creative reacts to the rotation of the phone," Conrad, the chief product officer, said. Read the full story: Quibi execs describe 3 ways the video service will measure success — after raising $1.4 billion before launchJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns explains why country music is universal
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Quibi is missing its numbers and blame is flying. Lots of insider quotes here, but under it...Quibi is missing its numbers and blame is flying. Lots of insider quotes here, but under it all, blaming the lockdown ('it's for mobile use!' ) doesn't work when Tiktok is still exploding. The thesis does actually make sense to me, though I'm in a minority (UGC length but professional quality), but the funding and launch plan don't allow any room for iteration and experiment - they just bet they knew everything before meeting a customer. We'll see if they can fix it. ($)
10 Quibi insiders describe working on shows for the video startup, which raised $1.8 billion and has become a media punching bag after a sluggish launch
Quibi's sluggish growth since its April debut has made it the butt of some media jokes:...Quibi's sluggish growth since its April debut has made it the butt of some media jokes: "Yes, Quibi still exists," cracked the headline of a June Marketplace episode. Business Insider got the inside story of how people who have developed or worked on shows for Quibi feel about the service post-launch. Most of the people said it showed promise and was producing high-quality programming, but were disappointed with the initial response. "I genuinely thought it would do better," one person said. "I'm not using it as much as I thought I would." The insiders also described a demanding workload on Quibi productions, which was intensified by the pandemic, as well as extensive notes from Quibi's content execs, on everything from the graphics to the talent on screen. If you have a tip about Quibi, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message her on Signal at 347-770-5933. Click here for more BI Prime stories. Not long after the mobile-video service Quibi launched, its cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg ruffled feathers with a quip to The New York Times that one of the company's core bets was not panning out. The startup, which had raised a mammoth $1.8 billion from venture backers, had hired publishers like BBC, ESPN, and E! to create short-form news and lifestyle programming. The slate, called Daily Essentials, aimed to help make Quibi a habit for its target audience of 20- and 30-somethings who spend their days glued to smartphones. "The Daily Essentials are not that essential," Katzenberg told the Times' Nicole Sperling in early May. He also blamed the coronavirus pandemic for Quibi's anemic growth since launch. The remark didn't sit well with some people who were actively working on Quibi's Daily Essentials. "It was disenchanting and concerning," a development exec at one of Quibi's content partners told Business Insider. "You're talking about hundreds of people working on various Daily Essentials ... It leads all of us to ask and wonder, what exactly the future is for the 'essentials'?" "What exactly is the future" is a fundamental question that plagues not just those working on the Daily Essentials, but other Quibi insiders, as well. During May and June, Business Insider spoke with 10 people who had developed or worked on shows for Quibi, including four who were actively involved in productions at the time. The people asked to remain anonymous because they did not have permission to speak about Quibi's productions. The people described a demanding workload that was made more complicated by the pandemic, as well as a stringent content-development team at Quibi that gave feedback — on everything from the graphics to the talent on screen — well beyond what rival platforms like Netflix typically give. Most of the Quibi insiders said they'd used the service themselves and thought it showed promise and was producing high-quality programming. But, like Katzenberg, they were disappointed with the initial response, and some found themselves not considering Quibi content "essential" in their own media diets. "I genuinely thought it would do better," a person who had worked with Quibi's content team said. "There was a lot of excitement in development … I watched a few of the shows. I'm not using it as much as I thought I would." It spotlights a core issue for the subscription service as it prepares its next slate of programming. Quibi commissioned top publishers and Hollywood studios to create short-form programming that was as good as the shows and movies you'd find on Netflix or traditional TV. But the programming — like "Chrissy's Court," a celebrity-infused take on reality court shows; reboots of "Punk'd" and "Reno 911"; and thrillers like "The Most Dangerous Game" — isn't drastically different from what's available on other platforms. The in-between moments of the day that Quibi's 10-minute-or-less episodes were designed to fill have mostly dried up during lockdown. And Quibi has yet to land a cultural hit that forces people to take notice, like Disney Plus' "The Mandalorian," Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," or Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale." Quibi was fighting an uphill battle by launching on April 6, amid a global coronavirus pandemic and with WarnerMedia's HBO Max and NBCUniversal's Peacock on its heels. The subscription service, which starts at $4.99 per month with ads, gained some early traction with the help of a 90-day free-trial offer that helped drive 1.7 million app downloads in the service's first week. But the service soon sank in the US iPhone app rankings. By May 29, it had fallen out of the top 200 in the iOS app store, according to the analytics firm App Annie. As Quibi battles to build a subscriber base alongside established video services like Netflix, newcomers like HBO Max, and digital platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Quibi's programming can't just be good, it needs to be unmissable — if not for the general public, then for a passionate subset. "Nothing has broken out," said Alan Wolk, cofounder of and lead analyst at TVREV. "Quibi hasn't found its niche yet. And then the second part of that is finding a niche that's going to get people to actually subscribe and pay." Quibi execs are very, very involved in productions and tend to give a lot more notes than competitors The pandemic has created challenges for Quibi's production teams, which, like the rest of the industry, were forced to pause or shift to remote work. Quibi thinks about its content in three main buckets: Movies "told in chapters," or episodes Scripted and unscripted series that are similar in quality to what you'd find on TV Daily Essentials, or timely news and informational programming that is released daily Its launch slate of shows and movies was mostly complete by March, when the production shutdowns rippled throughout the global TV and film industry. The Daily Essentials were still in production, as were some shows due to hit during the summer and fall. The pandemic pushed Quibi's production partners to work even harder to stay on schedule. "This process was difficult as it was to begin with," a second development exec working with Quibi said. "The pandemic added so many layers of complication … The workload was really tough, also because of the feedback that came back and forth that I would call nitpicking in some instances." Multiple insiders said that Quibi's content execs gave extensive notes to production partners on what the shows should look like, down to the graphics, set decorations, on-air talent, wardrobe, and zoom of a shot. The feedback, the people said, went beyond what execs at other mobile-first platforms like Snapchat Discover and Facebook Watch, or at Netflix, typically give. Some notes were more extensive than what TV networks provide. "There are notes and then there are Quibi notes," one of the development execs said. "Quibi from the start of an idea, to the title of the show, to the set design, color scheme, pixels in the graphics, I don't know that there was a detail that Quibi isn't involved in." The intense feedback was partly because Quibi was endeavoring to create content people hadn't seen before, and had very specific ideas about how it should look. The workload was also compounded by Quibi's Turnstyle feature, which shifts between portrait and landscape orientations as viewers rotate their devices. It requires two cuts for every video. "A lot more goes into it than just creating a separate angle for format," another person said. "There's a whole decision-making process on the graphics and styling." Quibi has touted Turnstyle as a key tool that will unlock new ways for content creators and advertisers to tell stories on smartphones. But, so far, it hasn't been enough to make Quibi stand out for audiences. "All of our shows and partners are having to work harder and smarter since COVID forced us into an industry-wide remote reality," Becky Brooks, head of lifestyle programming for Quibi, said in a statement to Business Insider. "We're exceptionally grateful to our partners at how quickly and efficiently they were able to pivot and stand up quality shows." The streaming service was going after mobile-forward millennials, but is still learning who its real audience is In the weeks since launch, the insiders said they hadn't noticed major shifts in the kinds of notes they were getting from Quibi execs. They thought Quibi might need more time to gather and analyze the data before changing course on its content strategy. Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw and Kelly Gilblom reported in May that Quibi was starting to reassess some of its upcoming slate. For the most part, production teams are still working off Quibi's initial assumption of who its audience would be, namely, mobile-forward 25- to 35-year-olds. One person described that target audience as a "premium, film watching" audience. Another person described them as young professionals in their early 30s who were very plugged into culture. Bloomberg reported, however, that the early audience for Quibi had been older and more female than Quibi executives anticipated. The data Quibi has provided to production partners has so far been limited, said some of the insiders, who declined to share details due to non-disclosure agreements. But it's not unusual for a streaming service, especially one as young as Quibi, to play its data close to the vest. Netflix, which has been releasing originals since 2013, only said last year that it would start sharing more data with producers. Quibi has shared some stats with the media: The company says 80% percent of Quibi's viewers complete the episode they are watching, multiple outlets reported. And the app had signed up 1.6 million subscribers to a free trial and been downloaded 4.5 million times, The Wall Street Journal's Benjamin Mullin reported on June 3. Quibi needs more than good shows. It needs a viral hit. Some of the people working on Quibi productions also wondered if the company had backed itself into a corner by restricting how users can share its content on social media. The Quibi app blocks users from taking screenshots of the content. Mobile apps from competitors like Netflix and Hulu do this too, but users can capture content on web browsers and desktops, Business Insider's Paige Leskin reported. Netflix has also leaned into using Twitter and other social platforms to promote its programming, including shows like "Tiger King," which inspired memes and went viral. "The original sin of Quibi is that it's a closed ecosystem," one of the development execs said. "They created this walled garden that you could only see these things on Quibi. Quibi also gives its content partners a limited set of assets they can share on social media and other platforms. Two people said they had been pushing Quibi to allow them to use more clips from their shows and promote their content earlier, in the hopes of making it more discoverable. Quibi has started experimenting with sharing some of its content on social platforms in recent weeks. On June 1, Quibi released a full episode of "The Nod with Brittany & Eric," a daily show exploring Black culture that stemmed from a popular podcast, on its social platforms in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The special episode honored the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade and discussed police brutality. "We look forward to even more topical episodes and are excited for the future," Ryan Kadro, head of news programming for Quibi, said in a statement to Business Insider. The video had 12,200 views on Twitter and 682 on YouTube via Quibi's official accounts, as of the morning of June 5. It was also shared on Facebook and Instagram, and through the creators' own social channels. The social-media response wasn't overwhelming, but Quibi could lean more into this kind of experimentation to try and kickstart online conversation around its programming. But whether it will be effective is another question. "Quibi wants to be the future of streaming and how people get daily information and entertainment," another of the development execs said. "We're all wondering how that can happen in a world where you need that organic conversation to really blow up."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
Quibi is reportedly considering laying off 10% of its more than 250 employees, the Wall Street...Quibi is reportedly considering laying off 10% of its more than 250 employees, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The bite-sized streaming platform had a much-hyped launch in April, but its downloads and user numbers have been lackluster in the months since. The Journal also reports that senior executives, including CEO Meg Whitman, are taking 10% pay cuts to offset Quibi's poor performance. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Once hyped as a much-anticipated platform for streaming bite-sized videos, Quibi is reportedly considering cutting around 10% of its staff following its lackluster debut. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday the company has discussed the possibility of laying off 10% of its 250 employees. Some of the company's top executives, including CEO Meg Whitman, are taking voluntary 10% cuts to their salaries, according to the Journal. However, in a company memo provided to Business Insider, Whitman and Katzenberg told employees Quibi was "in a good financial position." The cofounders denied any plans to lay off staff and added the company has "recently" hired a dozen employees. Additionally, Whitman and Katzenberg told staff that senior executives had "volunteered" to take a 10% pay cut "because it's the right thing to do." Nonetheless, the Journal reported that potential layoffs would affect low- and mid-level employees. According to the Journal, "several" of Quibi's major advertisers are looking to renegotiate contracts with the platform. Quibi executives initially pledged to spend $1.1 billion in the first year alone on its vertical, mobile-only, 10-minute video content. However, it appears the company may be forced to scale back its plans given its lack of interest. News of potential layoffs come two months after Quibi launched to the public on April 6, on the back of $1.75 billion in funding and plans to spend nearly $500 million in marketing in the first year. However, Quibi's launch was lackluster: The app has been downloaded 4.5 million times, even with a 90-day free trial offered to users. Quibi has around 1.5 million active users, compared with the tens of millions of subscribers using streaming services like Disney Plus and Netflix. In a New York Times interview last month, Quibi cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg blamed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for "everything that has gone wrong" with the app. Yet beyond Quibi, other streaming platforms and social networks have seen spikes in use during the pandemic. Some of the lack of hype could have to do with Quibi's decision to block screenshots of its content, preventing any of its 50 titles from getting shared online through user-generated memes and viral humor. After facing backlash for this decision, Katzenberg said last month it would "soon" allow users to share its content on social platforms, although the cofounder didn't provide a timeline or details about what changes Quibi is making.SEE ALSO: YouTube is now a money-making machine, but the platform's early success was fueled by group of 'misfits' who wrote the rulebook for internet fame Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship