Quibi Gets Legal Win Amid Ongoing Consumer Indifference

Quibi, the $1.7 billion funded subscription streaming video service from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and eBay founder Meg Whitman, got a legal break from ongoing concerns about its underwhelming business model.

A Los Angeles District Court judge July 13 ruled against tech rival Eko’s claim that Quibi illegally uses its “turnstile” technology enabling users to alter how they watch video on portable devices by filling the screen whether the device is held vertically or horizontally.

“In short, Eko fails to make a clear showing of irreparable harm suffered by way of reputation and goodwill,” Judge Christina Snyder wrote denying Eko a preliminary injunction.

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Quibi heralded the decision, contending Eko never had a case, and alleging the litigation was an attempt at a payday.

“We will continue to aggressively defend ourselves,” said the streamer.

A lawyer representing Eko said the decision would be appealed.

“We look forward to presenting the merits of the case at trial, including our request for substantial damages,” Neel Chatterjee said in a statement.

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Regardless, Quibi, which offers subscribers access to original content no longer than 10 minutes in length for $4.99 (with ads) and $7.99 (without ads), has struggled to retain subscribers. The service claims its app has been downloaded more than 5.6 million times since the April launch. How many are active subscribers has not been disclosed.

Quibi Announces Executive Pay Cuts Amid Layoff Rumors

Mobile streaming service Quibi, still reeling from anemic subscriber numbers following its April 6 launch, announced senior executives have agreed to take a 10% pay cut while disputing rumors that it was contemplating layoffs.

In a report published by Deadline, Quibi founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman sent an internal memo to employees saying the reports of the company’s financial troubles were overblown. The Wall Street Journey had been reporting the company was exploring laying off 10% of its 250-person workforce.

“Quibi is in a good financial position,” stated the memo, which was printed in full by Deadline. “We will look for ways to tighten our belt. We are not laying off staff as a part of cost saving measures. We’ve recently added a dozen new Quibi employees.

“And in regard to tightening our belt, our senior leadership team has volunteered to take a 10% pay cut because it’s the right thing to do.”

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The memo further stated that the executives were “proud of the work that Jim Toth and the Content team are doing every day. Their integrity and commitment to their work is unparalleled and we are fortunate to have them on our team. They have delivered compelling content that is working great with our audiences.”

The memo also blasted a story by the New York Post claiming staffers were unhappy by Reese Witherspoon’s $6 million salary to narrate a nature documentary called Fierce Queens that has reportedly not generated the viewership to justify the cost.

“We are pleased with the performance of Fierce Queens,” the memo said. “The talent compensation was utterly inaccurate. We are grateful for Reese’s continued support of Quibi.”

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Quibi, which derives its name from the term “Quick Bites,” is hoping to build a business model predicated on $4.99 monthly subscriptions ($7.99 for no ads) to access short-form content that can be enjoyed in 10-minute increments. Some observers have called the model inherently flawed in the age of YouTube, as viewers looking for a quick video distraction on their phones during a subway commute or waiting in line will likely not be interested in devoting full attention to the kinds of professionally produced programming offered by Quibi that is more in line with long-form binge-watching.

The format took an additional hit by launching during a global pandemic that has seen potential customers staying at home and not putting themselves in a position where a 10-minute video distraction would be of any benefit to them.

In just under two months, the Quibi app has been downloaded 4.5 million times, translating to 1.6 million subscribers — though many of those are subject to a 90-day free trial and have not yet paid fees to the service. Katzenberg in early May told the New York Times that the pandemic was the primary reason subscriber numbers have been below projections.

Quibi’s early programming has been fueled by $1.75 billion in investment capital, with many of the shows having already been renewed for multiple seasons. Advertisers have been asking to renegotiate terms in light of the lower viewership data, according to Deadline.

In addition, Quibi is being sued by Eko over the rights to the Turnstyle technology that allows Quibi programming to be viewed in either horizontal or vertical mobile modes.

Katzenberg Blames COVID-19 for Quibi’s Slow Start

With 3.5 million app downloads (and 1.3 million active users) since launching on April 6, streaming video platform Quibi is not Disney+, Netflix, or even Acorn TV. And with billions of dollars in backing, the ambitious start-up from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman finds Katzenberg on the defensive.

In an interview with The New York Times, Katzenberg laments how the coronavirus pandemic and resulting nationwide home quarantines undermined the Quibi app’s mobile-centric target user.

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“I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus. Everything. But we own it,” Jeffrey Katzenberg told The Times.

Since its launch, Quibi (which stands for “quick bites”) offers original video content from big-name talent and directors no longer than 10 minutes in length. After debuting in the top three app downloads, the platform now ranks 125th, according to Sensor Tower.

“Is it the avalanche of people that we wanted and were going for out of launch? The answer is no. It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted,” Katzenberg said.

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Indeed, while attributing business failure to a pandemic seems easy, some observers contend Quibi’s mobile-only platform was doomed regardless of COVID-19.

“Quibi’s failure is due to its restrictive nature,” Danyaal Rashid, analyst with Global Thematic Research, said in a note. “The platform only supports mobile viewing and short-form video; the content library is weak compared to larger streamers; and at $7.99 (€9.05) a month [without ads], it is expensive – Disney+ is just $6.99 a month.”

Quibi has also been sued by Israeli tech company Eko, which claims the app’s technology enabling users to watch video either in vertical or horizontal position on their cell phone, is their invention.

“This is a case to stop the theft of Eko’s technology by Quibi, alleging a civil action for patent infringement under the patent laws of the United States, and misappropriation of trade secrets,” Eko alleged in a complaint filed March 10 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Quibi has filed a countersuit.

Meanwhile, Whitman remains more positive. In a May 11 interview with CNN Business, the former GOP California gubinatorial candidate said Quibi is a new brand with original content attempting to attract millions of eyeballs.

“We came to market with no library, no legacy product and we’re starting from scratch,” Whitman said. “I know how hard it is to gain people’s attention, particularly in a pandemic. But I feel really good about where we are, even though we’re five weeks old.”

Maybe, but Verizon felt equally confident about its mobile-centric entertainment app, go90, which launched in 2015 with original content from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning short, Dear Basketball. It shuttered less than three years later with losses reaching $1 billion and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam retiring.

Quibi Tops 2.7 Million App Downloads

Quibi has added another 1 million app downloads to reach 2.7 million downloads since launching in North America on April 6. The $4.99 monthly ($7.99 without ads) streaming video service for mobile devices is the brainchild of DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief executive Meg Whitman.

While consumer interest pales in comparison to Disney+ and Netflix, the uptick in downloads comes as Quibi is offering 90 days of free service to subs signing up before April 30. The platform has distribution deals with Google and T-Mobile, and reportedly sold out its entire $150 million ad inventory for 2020.

In a interview with Reuters, Katzenberg said the platform would soon be accessible through streaming devices to the television. Currently, Quibi, which stands for “quick bites,” is limited to portable media devices. With millions of commuters quarantined in their homes due to the coronavirus, Katzenberg hopes to have TV access by next month.

“Under the circumstances, launching a new business into the tsunami of a pandemic, we actually have had a very, very good launch,” Katzenberg said in the interview.

Quibi Generated 300,000 First-Day App Downloads

Quibi, the mobile-centric SVOD platform from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief executive Meg Whitman, generated about 300,000 downloads in North America during its first day of operations after launching April 6, according to new data from Sensor Tower.

Following months of buildup than encompassed seemingly nonstop industry buzz and backed by a $1.75 billion war chest, the $4.99 monthly ($7.99 without ads) mobile-only streaming platform’s launch day would appear underwhelming when compared to the launch of Disney’s SVOD platform, Disney+.

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Quibi generated just 7.5% of the 4 million app installs Disney+ recorded in the U.S. and Canada when it launched on Nov. 12, 2019. Disney said it recorded 10 million subscribers in the first 24 hours. HBO Now, in comparison, was installed approximately 45,000 times at its launch on April 7, 2015, five days ahead of the “Game of Thrones” season five premiere.

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Sensor Tower said Quibi’s release figures were bolstered by a lengthy preorder period, effectively front-loading a significant number of downloads into its launch day.

Quibi Launches Mobile SVOD Service

Quibi, the much-heralded mobile subscription streaming video app/service from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief executive Meg Whitman, April 6 formally bowed service.

The platform, which is backed by a whopping $1.75 billion in third-party capital investment, aims to achieve what Verizon’s short-lived $1 billion go90 could not: A mobile-centric streaming entertainment service.

Quibi, which features a $4.99 monthly option with ads and a $7.99 plan with no ads, is launching with original “Hollywood-style” short-form content no longer than 10 minutes from filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Lena Waithe and Catherine Hardwicke, among others.

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The launch slate features 50 programs, including “Chrissy’s Court” with supermodel Chrissy Teigen directing a small claims court, food and travel show, “Shape of Pasta,” dystopian thriller “Most Dangerous Game” with Liam Hemsworth; “Survive,” a plane crash drama starring Sophie Turner.

Quibi says it will update its content slate weekly with 25 new programs.

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T-Mobile Offering Customers Free Quibi Subscription

T-Mobile is offering customers a free subscription to short-content streaming service Quibi via the promotion “Quibi on Us” when the service launches April 6.

Quibi, led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, delivers content designed specifically for smartphones. All Quibi videos are 10 minutes or less and feature such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Liam Hemsworth and Reese Witherspoon.

Via the exclusive deal with Quibi, T-Mobile customers with two or more voice lines at standard rates on Magenta and ONE plans with taxes and fees included — along with discounted First Responder, Military and Magenta Plus 55 plans — or small business customers with up to 12 lines, can get Quibi (regularly $4.99) added to their plan at no extra cost. Customers can sign up between now and July 7 to get “Quibi on Us” by going to mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android beginning April 6. Until April 3, T-Mobile customers can sign up in the T-Mobile Tuesdays app or online for access to three bonus episodes of Jennifer Lopez’ “Thanks a Million” April 6.

After a full year of “Quibi on Us” and “Netflix on Us,” a promotion that offers SVOD service Netflix at no cost, Un-carrier customers can choose to continue with one or the other.

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“T-Mobile customers have always been ahead of the curve — streaming more data, watching more mobile video — so when we first heard about Quibi, we knew our customers would love it,” said Mike Sievert, president and CEO of T-Mobile, in a statement. “And, with more of us staying home right now, Quibi’s never been more needed. It comes on the scene with a totally different experience, made for mobile, quick to watch and as entertaining as anything you’ve ever seen.”

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“Quibi and T-Mobile are a perfect match — we’re both changing our industries by giving our customers what they want in truly unique and innovative ways,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi, in a statement. “And, since Quibi is built for an optimal mobile experience, we chose T-Mobile as our exclusive wireless launch partner. With the only nationwide 5G network, T-Mobile was the obvious choice for our customers.”

More than 85% of mobile video streamed on T-Mobile’s network is short-form content, according to the company.

Quibi Execs Outline Programming and Strategy of Short-Form Content Network

LAS VEGAS — Quibi’s Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman at CES on Jan. 8 outlined the strategy, programming, partners, talent and technology for the short-form network, which is launching April 6 at $4.99 a month with ads and $7.99 a month without.

“Today we’re living through another revolution in entertainment, this time on our mobile phones,” said Katzenberg, noting that short-form content under 10 minutes in length is ideal for on-the-go viewing and the millennial audience.

Creators are working with tech experts to make a new form of entertainment designed specifically for mobile, they said.

One innovation is turnstile, a way of recording a story in both full-screen portrait and full-screen landscape so that as viewers turn their phones they get an equally compelling view of the story. Quibi delivers both edits to users’ phones so they can choose which to see by moving from portrait to landscape. Executives demonstrated how the story of “Nest,” one program coming on Quibi, is told through the two edits.

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Katzenberg said there will be three tiers of content: movies told in chapters, episodic and unscripted series and documentaries, and “Daily Essentials.”

Talent for the movie tier includes Bill Murray, Kiefer Sutherland, Sam Raimi (producing a horror anthology), Katherine Hardwick, Lorne Michaels, Kevin Hart and Steven Spielberg, among others.

In the 120 shows in the episodic and unscripted tier, talent includes Chrissy Teigen, Idris Elba and Tyra Banks, with rebooted versions of MTV’s “Punk’d” and “Singled Out” and cooking competitions part of the programming.

The “Daily Essentials” tier will feature the day’s news and info in partnership with NBC News, BBC, TMZ, Telemondo and The Weather Channel. It will also feature a meditation show, a talk show and a round up of late night show highlights.

Whitman noted that the Quibi format will also feature new advertising creative and that the inventory for the first year is sold out at $150 million.

Quibi is “bringing creators and technologists into the same conversation,” she said.

She added that the programming on the service will be 35% more than the prime time lineup of a traditional TV network.

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Lionsgate Readies ’50 Cent’ Animated Series for Quibi Streaming Service

Pending subscription streaming video service Quibi and Lionsgate Dec. 17 announced collaboration on “Trill League,” an animated black superhero series based on the graphic novel of the same name by Anthony Piper, combining the worlds of superheroes, anime and hip hop culture.

The short-form video series is executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (“Power”) and 3 Arts Entertainment’s Jermaine Johnson. Trill League is co-created, written and executive produced by Jameel Saleem (“South Park”) and Piper. The series is produced by 3 Arts Entertainment and G-Unit Film & Television in association with Lionsgate Television.

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In an era of social injustice and Internet trolls, a league of black superheroes is tasked with saving the world from monsters, super villains and haters of all kinds, while also satirizing modern American society.

“I am excited to bring G-Unit Film & Television to an innovative platform like Quibi with my partners at Lionsgate and 3 Arts. Anthony Piper and Jameel Saleem have created a world we haven’t seen before in ‘Trill League,’ looking forward to sharing it soon,” Jackson said in a statement.

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“Writing a show about black superheroes is a dream come true for me,” said Saleem, who added he couldn’t be luckier working with “brilliant” Anthony Piper. “It’s going to be something special.”

Quibi ($5), from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman, launches April 6, 2020.

Quibi, Lionsgate Partner for Original Series

Pending short-form video subscription service Quibi and Lionsgate Nov. 20 announced the order for series drama “Swimming With Sharks,” to be written and produced by Kathleen Robertson (“Murder in the First,” Lionsgate’s “Boss”) and directed by Tucker Gates (“Homeland,” “The Morning Show”). Production starts next February.

“Swimming with Sharks” is a contemporary update of George Huang’s original film that both celebrates and skewers the Hollywood studio system. In this adaptation, a young female assistant is at the center of a studio filled with manipulators, schemers and intrigue, but little do they know she is poised to outwit them all.

Chris Cowles (Chappaquiddick, Blockers) will also produce. Dana Brunetti (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) and Liz Destro (Lee Daniel’s The Butler, Cake) will serve as executive producers as well as Jay Cohen and Stephen Israel, who executive produced the original movie.

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“The series underscores our commitment to partnering with emerging platforms and expanding our valuable library properties like Swimming with Sharks into exciting new forms of storytelling,” Kevin Beggs, chairman Lionsgate Television, said in a statement.

Quibi, created by DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and HP’s Meg Whitman, launches on April 6, 2020, priced at $4.99 monthly. The service plans to spend upwards of $1 billion on original short-form content targeting mobile devices.