Jeffery Katzenberg’s $2 Billion Streaming Platform Quibi Is a Disaster

Film producer and Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg speaks about the short-form video streaming service for mobile Quibi during a keynote address January 8, 2020 at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
Robyn Beck/AFP

In a recent article, Vulture outlines how the recently launched mobile-only entertainment platform Quibi appears to have failed to grab viewers’ attention despite investing almost two billion in the mobile-only platform.

Vulture writes that Quibi, the recently launched platform headed by former Disney studio head and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg had a simple concept — reinventing television into ten-minute-or-less chunks of high-quality content designed to be viewed on mobile phones.

Katzenberg believed that mobile phone users would spend their spare minutes during the day, such as while waiting for coffee or riding the subway, watching short, Hollywood-quality stories for a month with ads. But so far the platform does not appear to have taken off, despite the company’s massive investment in A-list talent.

Vulture spoke with Scott Gairdner, a comedy writer and director who worked on Conan, invented the animated show Moonbeam City, and was the co-creator of a viral Adult Swim show called Live at the Necropolis: Lords of Synth, which Quibi was reportedly interested in developing into a show for its platform.

Gairdner discussed his pitch meeting at Quibi, stating:

I can honestly say I’ve never been in such a cocky pitch environment. I would describe the atmosphere as almost Wolf of Wall Street, not in terms of actual debauchery, but it’s an incredibly nice office that just goes and goes.

They had two lobbies; you went in and checked in at a nice, big lobby, then you were moved to another lobby.

There’s massive jars of expensive, nice-seeming candy everywhere. It’s sleek and modern, and you see hundreds of people passing by. And there’s this energy of people who really believe they’ve got the next big thing.

Quibi was set to launch in the spring of 2020 with 50 original shows and another 125 rolled out by the end of the year. Katzenberg knew many would be wary of working with this new platform, as a result, he typically offered to pay producers’ costs plus 20 percent when signing talent to the platform.

Many big names were attracted to the platform, including Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions which has produced some of the most popular horror movies of recent years including Paranormal Activity, The Purge, and Get Out. Other notable talent including director Sam Raimi, actor Idris Elba, model and actress Chrissy Teigen, actress Anna Kendrick, and the Kardashian sisters were all signed to produce content on the platform.

On the first day of launch on April 6, the Quibi app hit number 3 in Apple’s App Store. By mid-June, it had dropped to number 284. Quickly, many started to find issues with the platform, Vulture published an article titled “Yep, Quibi Is Bad”, while the Guardian called Quibi “an idea born in an L.A. conference room that will probably die in the real world.”

Breitbart News reported in May that Katzenberg blamed Quibi’s failure at launch on the Chinese virus. Breitbart’s John Nolte also took issue with Quibi, writing in an April column:

What’s Quibi is selling is boutique distraction, high-end distraction, distraction with gloss and sparkle… This is Hollywood-produced distraction. Quibi is gambling almost two billion dollars on the notion there’s a market for distraction produced a couple of notches above the mostly amateur distraction people have been consuming for a decade on YouTube and PornHub.

Come on, is that really what people want?

Are people willing to pay a monthly fee for that?

Quibi became the focus of many jokes. Jimmy Kimmel stated while hosting a virtual version of Disney-ABC’s annual upfront: “Here I am, standing here like a fucking fool with nobody watching. I feel like every show on Quibi right now.”

Read more about Quibi and its struggle to succeed at Vulture here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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