Katzenberg Touts ‘Quibi’ Potential

NEWS ANALYSIS: DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief executive Meg Whitman March 8 at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, unveiled details about Quibi, the streaming video service slated to launch in 2020.

The platform, which is targeting cord-cutters and younger-demo consumers comfortable streaming short-form video on mobile devices, aims to capture 20 minutes of the 70 minutes consumers spend daily watching scripted and non-scripted content, according to Katzenberg.

“Six years ago it was six minutes. A year and a half ago, it was 40 minutes. And today it’s 70 minutes,” he said, as reported by Techcrunch. “People love being able to watch great short form content on the go.”

Banking on Katzenberg’s studio clout and $1 billion in fiscal backing, Quibi reportedly has inked original content deals with director/producers Sam Raimi, Antoine Fuqua, Guillermo del Toro and Jason Blum. Content creators include Justin Timberlake, Kobe Bryant, Scooter Braun, Jennifer Lopez and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, among others.

The platform is also producing an original program on the creation of Snapchat and founder Evan Spiegel.

Whitman, who said she follows the data, claims confidence about Quibi based on the fact “our users” are watching a lot of video on mobile.

“They’re excited about the opportunity to see something differentiated,” she said.

So was Verizon in 2015 when it launched go90, the ambitious ad-supported streaming video app for mobile devices (i.e. cell phones) that featured original content from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and helped launch Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short, Dear Basketball.

The app lasted less than three years without generating traction with the same audience Quibi is targeting. Verizon ended up posting a $1 billion loss on the venture — a dubious footnote to retiring CEO Lowell McAdam’s legacy.

Katzenberg and Whitman say Quibi will not look to rival Netflix or YouTube. Instead, it will compete for a share of the online video behemoths’ mobile video users featuring about 100 original content items weekly, including a MTV-style music news program.

“We’re using a lot of judgment, and we’ll know whether it works when it launches,” Whitman said.

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