Quibi insiders explain how its Hollywood roots led to a traditional approach to mobile TV: 'If it can be on YouTube, it can't be on Quibi'
Mobile-video service Quibi has tried to distance its subscription app from free, social-media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. "If it can be on YouTube, it can't be on Quibi," founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is known to say, sources close to the company told Business Insider. But that thinking also injected a rather traditional view of TV — centered on big stars and familiar concepts — into what is meant to be a modern platform for the millennial generation, some Quibi insiders said. Quibi doesn't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to programming, but it does need shows that resonate with the millennial audience it chose to pursue, the same way Disney Plus enchanted kids and parents with "The Mandalorian." The platform's next slate of programming starts rolling out in July. If you have a tip about Quibi, contact the author at email@example.com, or message her on Signal at 347-770-5933. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
When mobile-video platform Quibi was commissioning its initial programming slate, the mandate from founder Jeffrey Katzenberg was clear: Quibi's shows needed to be different from the videos on YouTube, Instagram, or Snapchat. "If it can be on YouTube, it can't be on Quibi," Katzenberg is known to say, sources close to the company told Business Insider. Quibi confirmed in statements to Business Insider that Katzenberg believes content that can be on social media shouldn't be on Quibi. But in trying to distance Quibi's subscription service from social media, the company also modeled what is meant to be a modern platform for the millennial generation after a rather traditional view of TV, some Quibi insiders said. Business Insider spoke with eight people who worked on or with Quibi content, including five who said the company took a traditional approach to programming. Quibi's current lineup looks a lot like programming that can be found on network TV. What's different is that Quibi's shows — its daily news and lifestyle series, scripted and alternative shows, and "movies told in chapters" — are under 10 minutes long. Quibi's dance competition series, "Floored," is basically a mashup between "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Wipeout," even if it is hosted by YouTube star Liza Koshy. Its latest news show, "60 in 6," is inspired by the classic CBS news program "60 Minutes." "Chrissy's Court" is a celebrity-infused take on a syndicated reality court show. And Quibi rebooted cable shows from the 2000s, including "Punk'd" and "Reno 911." To some content partners, it felt like a missed opportunity to rethink what shows and movies could look like on an exclusively mobile screen. "By taking something traditional and shrinking down the time, it doesn't make it more innovative," one producer who worked on a Quibi show said. While some of the programming, like the Anna Kendrick-starring "Dummy" about a woman who befriends a sex doll certainly feel fresh, it's not hitting in a major way with Quibi's target audience of 25- to 35-year-olds. It gets to the heart of the problem. Quibi doesn't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to programming. But it does need shows that resonate with the millennial audience it chose to pursue, the same way Disney Plus enchanted kids and parents with "The Mandalorian"; Netflix made itself a home for hard-hitting dramas and unconventional comedies with "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards"; and Hulu became known for more than next-day TV with the "The Handmaid's Tale." "What's going to make any of these service is having shows that people start talking about," said Alan Wolk, cofounder and lead analyst at TVREV. At launch, Quibi leaned more on Hollywood celebs like Teigen, Anna Kendrick, Reese Witherspoon, Kevin Hart, and Liam Hemsworth, than influencers who have been innovating on mobile platforms like YouTube and TikTok. "The reason why we went with stars, and celebrities, and well-known talent is because it's brand new," Katzenberg said on Thursday, speaking at SeriesFest, an annual festival for episodic content that is being held virtually this year. "We needed to clearly define for the consumer, for people that would subscribe to this, why is it different? What differentiates it from what you would see on TikTok? ... not because there's anything wrong with TikTok, or Instagram, but ours is a subscription service, and we're asking you to pay." Katzenberg said at the event that Quibi wants to work with online storytellers and young filmmakers to help broaden the audience for the platform. The company is already working with a few digital stars. In addition to Koshy, "Kirby Jenner" is a reality show about an influencer who pretends to be the fraternal twin of Kendall Jenner. And the gaming organization FaZe Clan is headlining an upcoming competition series. Quibi, which launched in April, has about 75 shows out, Katzenberg said at SeriesFest. The company is preparing its next slate, which begins rolling out in July. It'll be a second chance for Quibi to win over audiences. "The first wave of content didn't connect," said Stephen Beck, the founder and managing partner of the consulting firm cg42. "The stakes get higher every day for them to get something that breaks through and captures the attention of just a subset to be able to drive traction." Read Business Insider's full story on Jeffrey Katzenberg's leadership at Quibi: 15 Quibi insiders detail Jeffrey Katzenberg's tight control of the startup's content and intense leadership as he tries to avoid disaster after raising $1.8 billionJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
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The company started by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman had a high-profile launch and megawatt Hollywood...The company started by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman had a high-profile launch and megawatt Hollywood stars involved but failed to find an audience.
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
Quibi launched: a $1.8bn bet on Hollywood-quality mobile video from Jeffrey Katzenberg, with a 90 day free...Quibi launched: a $1.8bn bet on Hollywood-quality mobile video from Jeffrey Katzenberg, with a 90 day free trial and 1.7m downloads in the first week. Thoughts: 1: this is a total un-Silicon Valley way to do things - betting billions before any contact with the customer, and going for a huge fully-formed product rather than experimenting and iterating. 2: It's also (as I've also argued about Netflix) a TV company, not a tech company in any way - all of the tech has to be good, but that's just a condition of entry. The questions that determine success are all LA questions, not SV questions. 3: the tech is pretty good - a UI that's different enough to be distinctive and drive the flow of different atoms of content, without being so different that you need to be in the know to get it (the Snapchat problem). I don't know if it will work, but neither does anyone else.