Claire (gingerywilson) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
Claire
gingerywilson
ohnotheydidnt

ONTD Original: What the Fuck is a Quibi - Part 2

quibi-2.png

The last time I wrote about Quibi it came from a place of bewilderment. Who let this happen? How could a streaming service be doing so terribly when people have nothing but time on their hands? Why have I not received a cut of that $1.8 billion-dollar budget in exchange for my flawless ONTD Original? [1]

Now, six weeks after that post and twelve weeks from Quibi’s launch, the streaming service stands at a fascinating tipping point - their core user base’s three month long free trials are about to end. What’s next for Quibi? What’s happened since my last post? Is it true that Reese Witherspoon will be the only person to benefit from this disaster? We’ve had a few great posts where we dunked on Quibi [2] [3], quite possibly ONTD’s best new skill. But let’s go deeper! Settle in folks, for this ONTD Original: What the Fuck is a Quibi - Part 2.



QUIBI'S PREDECESSORS

In my first Quibi post, I gave a background on Katzenberg and Whitman, the executives behind the project, but I did not focus as much on the apps and streaming services that came before Quibi. Why is that? Well, they flopped so hard I had never even heard of them until recently.

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Samsung’s Milk Video (2014-2015)

Milk Video was available only to Android users, and as an avid Android user myself even I know that’s a dumb idea. It was a sort of knock off YouTube, which touted exclusive content and an algorithm that would learn your tastes. Much like Quibi, Milk Video was intended to be “natively mobile” [4] because us millennials just can’t get off our phones. About a year later, Samsung shuttered the ailing project and announced a round of layoffs [5].

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Vessel (2015-2016)

Vessel was Jason Kilar’s pet project - he is now the CEO of WarnerMedia and in charge of HBO Max [6], so expect amazing things there if Vessel is any indication of his skills. Vessel’s gimmick is that users would be charged $3/month for early access to content from YouTube creators, who signed big-budget contracts agreeing to make their content exclusively available on Vessel… for three days [7]. After which, creators could release their content on YouTube as per usual. Vessel also made the same mistake as Quibi by having an extremely long free trial (Vessel’s was one year [8]), meaning that by the time the operation folded they barely even had any paying customers [9]. Verizon purchased Vessel, and then promptly shut down the service as they wanted staff to focus on go90 [10].

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Verizon’s go90 (2015-2018)

Verizon’s go90 was supposed to be the corporate giant’s answer to both traditional cable and streaming competitors. Much like with Quibi, content was commissioned from already established media entities like Comedy Central, ESPN, and HGTV, though unlike Quibi, the vast majority of their library at launch was not original content [11]. Even though the app was free and supported by ads, it failed to find a large and consistent audience. Despite being the platform through which Kobe Bryant won an Oscar (yes, really), go90 shut down in 2018 to little fanfare, ultimately losing nearly $1 Billion USD for Verizon [12] [13].





THE PAST SIX WEEKS

Since my first post Quibi has continued to court bad press. I think it’s fair to say that almost no one is rooting for Quibi, so some of these headlines have been just delightful. During this time Quibi has continued to release episodes, debut new shows, and even announce some renewals, but most of the buzz they’ve generated has nothing to do with their actual content.

Advertisers Are Nervous

In late May, multiple sources reported that Quibi’s advertisers are deferring payments to the streaming service due to concerns about low viewership [14]. It is unclear how much of Quibi’s use rbase, many of which are on a free trial until July, will continue to pay for the ad-free tier, opt for the baffling stil- costs-money-but-includes-ads tier, or cut out all together.

Quibi Takes a ‘quibi’ for BLM




Like every other corporation, Quibi posted a white-font-on-black-background tweet supporting BLM, and made their services unavailable for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. No word yet on if they’ve used any of the $1.8 Billion USD they raised from investors to put their money where their mouth is and support any BLM causes.

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PageSix Stirs the Pot

In what is hands-down my favourite headline related to Quibi, PageSix published, “Quibi staffers seethe at Reese Witherspoon’s $6M payday amid layoffs [15].” Per their reporting, insiders are frustrated that Witherspoon, whose husband is a high ranking executive at Quibi (and who you might remember from their drunk driving escapades [16]), took home a huge payday for narrating the nature show Fierce Queens which is apparently one of Quibi’s least popular shows [17] (which is really saying something). For some bonus sass, check out the comments in the ONTD post.

Quibi Denies Layoffs while Executives Take Pay Cuts

Pretty quickly after the PageSix article came out, Quibi was firm in their denial that layoffs were happening, but did concede that executives were taking a 10% pay cut since “ it’s the right thing to do” [18]. There has been no further news on if any of the 250 staff at Quibi will be let go.

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An Even Stupider Name and Internal Problems

The Wall Street Journal reported that Jeffrey Katzenberg originally wanted Quibi to have an even stupider name, “Omakase” [19] (which launched another very fun ONTD post). I want to be clear that I don’t mean Japanese is a stupid language, that “omakase” is a stupid word, or that the concept of order sushi omakase is stupid. What is stupid is that Jeffrey Katzenberg, an already out-of-touch white guy, thought this was the perfect name for an English-language streaming service where users select what they want to watch, quite the opposite of omakase.

While the dumb name was the part of the article that got the most buzz online, there were many other revelations about Katzenberg’s leadership and micromanagement. According to reporter Benjamin Mullin, Katzenberg would interrupt employees and undermine CEO Meg Whitman in meetings, though eventually he relented when Whitman confronted him [20]. Mullin also revealed that Quibi is poised to miss its subscriber goal for 2020 by 5 million users - their aim is for 7.4 million while they currently have around 2 million active users [21].

Tanking Downloads

In late May/early June, Quibi eased up on their marketing of the app (quite possibly in a cost-cutting measure), and app downloads promptly fell off a cliff. At its lowest, Quibi fell of the charts entirely, which measures the top 1,500 downloaded apps [22].




Since they’ve resumed spending they have rebounded somewhat, although they remain consistently outside the top 200 downloaded apps [23]

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A Princess Bride Remake, From Home

Jason Reitman is heading up a quarantined, at-home remake of The Princess Bride to fundraise for World Central Kitchen, and Quibi has committed to a $1 Million USD donation [24]. I have no further comments, because those wigs speaks for themselves.

Pirates Still Aren’t Bothering

Now, I would never pirate content. I would never download a car. I am pious, how dare you accuse me! That being said, allegedly there are very few, if any, people attempting to pirate Quibi’s content. There is buzz that some shows have been ripped and uploaded to torrenting sites, but that is more technologically advanced than I’ve ever been so IDK. Even the shows with a lot of fan support (Reno 911! and the Darren Criss-backed Royalties) are nowhere to be found online.





A GLIMMER OF HOPE

While I love to dunk on it, not everything is absolutely terrible at Quibi, and some things are actually working out quite well (or, well enough).

Give This Intern a Raise
Quibi finally left someone with a sense of humour run their Twitter account and it shows.



AirPlay and ChromeCast
After months of straining their user base’s eyesight, Quibi fans (lol) can now stream the app to their televisions using AirPlay and ChromeCast [25]

Renewed Series
I can’t find one source that conveniently lists all their renewed shows, but Quibi apparently thinks they have a future as they have committed to second seasons of a number of their programs. Renewals include Chrissy’s Court, Dishmantled, Murder House Flip, Punk’d, and Singled Out. Unless I’ve missed something, it appears so far only reality tv shows (cheap to produce!) have been renewed.

ETA: Nikki Fre$h, a scripted show, has been renewed as well.





THE FUTURE



So what’s next for Quibi? If the folks jokingly speculating that Quibi has secretly been a money laundering operation this whole time are correct, we might see the streaming service bow out with and take their $1.8 Billion USD and run. What I think is more likely is that Quibi will continue to limp along, as Katzenberg seems to still have enough pull to bring in investors (plus, the Quibi model has a lot of potential for union busting [26] which you know Hollywood loves).

Looking ahead, Quibi needs to raise $300 Million USD in 2020 to keep the lights on [27]. I am usually an optimist, but I doubt this will come solely from subscribers and, more likely, Quibi will need to seek alternative streams of income - but that’s pure speculation on my part. Whitman and Katzenberg have both reportedly agreed to step back on promoting Quibi (after Katzenberg’s much mocked interview with the New York Times [28]) and to let the celebrities and creators associated with the platform to speak for the streaming service [29].

Longer term, a big concern for Quibi could be that, by their own design, their creators own their content after seven years [30]. Obviously that’s a long way off, but even more notable is that those same creators can repackage their shows into one piece (instead of ‘quibis’) and license it to other platforms after just two years [31]. So even if (when) Quibi goes under, there is a good chance this content won’t be lost to time but could make its way to other streaming services. You know, maybe it is a money laundering front after all.



WORKS CITED
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7-8, 9-10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15/17, 16, 18, 19-21/27-29, 22-23, 24, 25, 26, 30-31

IMAGE SOURCES
1 + me on photoshop, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

EMBEDDED SOURCES
1, 2, 3, 4

stewie_e.gif
bless stewie_e for bringing this gif to my attention
Tags: #blacklivesmatter, computers and technology, flop, ontd original, television, web series / youtube
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