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Film phone app Quibi launches, but will coronavirus see investors lose $2bn because it’s not for TVs

A new mobile app called Quibi that features ten-minute original shows and films may fall flat on its face because it can’t be viewed on TVs.

Users are criticizing the service because they want to watch it on big screens in their homes during the coronavirus lock-down but can’t.

Quibi has had $2.75bn of investment – which now looks in jeopardy – and features short but high quality content from big name stars and directors.    

Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James and Chance the Rapper are among several high-profile producers.

Shows include a Judge Judy-style series starring Chrissy Tiegen and one in which Chris Hemsworth plays a terminally-ill man. Spielberg is also working on a fright program that is being billed as a series that can only be watched at night. 

Quibi’s original content includes ‘Chrissy’s Court’, which features model and television personality Chrissy Tiegen as a judge presiding over her own courtroom using style and humor to decide real-life cases

The thriller ‘Most Serious Game,’ starring Chris Hemsworth (right) was singled out by Hollywood Reporter Television critic Daniel Feinberg as ‘completely watchable and the structure sometimes feels episodically effective’

The thriller ‘Most Serious Game,’ starring Chris Hemsworth (right) was singled out by Hollywood Reporter Television critic Daniel Feinberg as ‘completely watchable and the structure sometimes feels episodically effective’

Quibi’s kick off features a total of 51 shows, broken down into three categories:

‘Movies in Chapters’, which are films broken up into 7-10 minute episodes. ‘Unscripted and Documentary Series’ and ‘Daily Essentials’, which are small 5 to 6 minute news and entertainment features, similar to what’s found on YouTube.

The app was founded by film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman. 

Katzenberg came up with the idea for Quibi, as YouTube and streaming video content became popular. 

His approach with the app is to deliver content much like today’s novels, with shorter chapters, to help lure users. 

Quibi was by film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg (pictured), who came up with the idea for the app as YouTube and streaming video content became popular

Quibi's other co-founder is former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who in addition to previously leading computer maker, serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble and Dropbox

Quibi was co-founded by film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg (left), who came up with the idea for the app as YouTube and streaming video content became popular, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman (right)

The 69-year-old Katzenberg, a giant in the animation and film industry, has helmed the Paramount and Disney film studios. 

He also brought pioneering computer animator Pixar to Disney, and is a cofounder of animation powerhouse Dreamworks.

Whitman, 63, in addition to previously leading computer maker Hewlett Packard, serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble and Dropbox. 

She also served as a senior member of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010, but threw her support behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. 

The costs for subscribing to Quibi are $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without, which are competitive with rivals Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. But those services are available on both mobile devices and smart televisions.  

Even Disney, which was among backers NBCUniversal and Viacom, during a first round of fundraising that raised $1 billion in 2018, has its owns streaming service, Disney Plus, which plays on phones, tablets and TVs. 

Among the first Quibi users Monday, some immediately noted, while in quarantine because of COVID-19, that they couldn’t watch the app’s shows on their TVs.

Ross Geller tweeted that ‘it would be wise to allow TV or else playback via HDMI. It’s a shame to be limited by teh size of the phone screen.’ 

Another Twitter user who goes by @CherHorowitz05 complained similarly and added, ‘Is this s–t for real? I don’t even want it for free now.’ 

A Twitter user who goes by @AlatvistaGoogle took issue with paying for a new app during the outbreak saying, ‘What were you thinking? Adapt the the business model and allow access during the pandemic.’

Ross Geller after trying Quibi tweeted that 'it would be wise to allow TV or else playback via HDMI. It's a shame to be limited by the size of the phone screen'

Ross Geller after trying Quibi tweeted that ‘it would be wise to allow TV or else playback via HDMI. It’s a shame to be limited by the size of the phone screen’

A Twitter user who goes by @CherHorowitz05 complained about the app being only for phones saying, 'Is this s--t for real? I don't even want it for free now'

A Twitter user who goes by @CherHorowitz05 complained about the app being only for phones saying, ‘Is this s–t for real? I don’t even want it for free now’

A Twitter user who goes by @AlatvistaGoogle took issue with paying for Quibi during the coronavirus outbreak saying, 'What were you thinking? Adapt the the business model and allow access during the pandemic'

A Twitter user who goes by @AlatvistaGoogle took issue with paying for Quibi during the coronavirus outbreak saying, ‘What were you thinking? Adapt the the business model and allow access during the pandemic’

How much Quibi has in its coffers is not exactly known. 

Quibi founders: Jeffrey Katzenberg and Margaret Whitman

Jeffrey Katzenberg, 69, is a New York City native who became a giant in the animation and film industry. 

He was only 31 when he was named president of Paramount Pictures, and would go on to become chairman of Walt Disney Studios two years later. Under his leadership, Disney produced its classics The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King.

 Katzenberg also formed an alliance with Pixar to make Toy Story, the world’s first computer-generated animated film, which has spawned three sequels. 

In 1994, he teamed up with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen to start Dream Works SKG, the animation studio which would deliver hits like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. 

He has been married to Marilyn Siege since 1975 and has two children.

Whitman, 63, is a native of Cold Spring Harbor, a hamlet of Huntington, New York.

In addition to previously leading computer maker Hewlett Packard, she serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble and Dropbox. 

She also served as a senior member of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010, but threw her support behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. 

She is married to Griffith Harsh, a neurosurgeon, and has two children. 

The app reportedly raised at least $2 billion in seed money from investors before any content was shot, reports the Verge. 

Quibi also announced another $750 million was brought in during a second round of fundraising that closed earlier this month, reports Fox News. 

That means the app bank-rolled the launch with almost $3 billion. 

By comparison, Netflix has $17.3 billion in cash on hand to spend on original and licensed shows this year, according to an estimate from BMO Capital Markets analysts, reports the Motley Fool.

With its investment, Quibi’s has content ready to match other streaming services.

One new show, Chrissy’s Court, features model and television personality Chrissy Tiegen as a judge presiding over her own courtroom using style and humor to decide real-life cases.

In the thriller ‘Most Serious Game,’ was singled out by Hollywood Reporter Television critic Daniel Feinberg as ‘completely watchable and the structure sometimes feels episodically effective,’ which should prove well for a program that’s broken up into ten-minute segments. 

The show stars Chris Hemsworth playing a terminally-ill man willing to do anything to make sure his pregnant wife is taken care, including playing a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Spielberg, meanwhile, has been working on an episodic program that works under the premise that it can only be watched at night.

Katzenberg, who spoke of the Spielberg project to Variety in June, said at the time he had already ‘written five or six episodes’ of a 10- or 12-chapter story.

The program is being developed under the title ‘Spielberg’s After Dark.’ 

Quibi launch highlights

‘Survive’, a thriller starring Sophie Turner of Game of Thrones fame, also stars Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) tells the story of two survivors of a plane crash on a mountain who must work together.

The comedy ‘Flipped’ tells the story of a chronically underemployed couple played by Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson, who strive to become TV’s next great home renovation show duo.

The series ‘Agua Donkeys,’ produced by Funny or Die, follows two pool-cleaning company workers as they seek out ‘the perfect tan, the perfect vibe, and the perfect mix of bromine and chlorine’ for pool cleaning. The show is based on a short film and has been called a ‘Californian Napoleon Dynamite.’

In ‘The Stranger’, which was written and directed by Veena Sud (The Killing), a passenger and rideshare driver spend 12 hours exploring the darker side of Los Angeles as they play a dangerous game.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

 

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