Idiot Box: Streaming For Millennials

Streaming For Millennials

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
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Aiming for “the quality of HBO” combined with “the convenience of Spotify,” the billion dollar mobile platform streaming service Quibi hopes to deliver streaming movies and TV shows to today’s ADD-addled Millennial audiences. But with dozens of specialty streaming services here now (from Netflix to Hulu to CBS All Access) and dozens more on the way (from Disney+ to Apple TV+ to WarnerMedia Streaming), will iPhone-worshipping, TV-shunning youths actually pay to play?

Quibi is a the brainchild of Hollywood film vet Jeffrey Katzenberg (former Disney chairman) and tech executive Meg Whitman (former president of Hewlett Packard). And who better to know the tastes of modern-day tweens, teens and twentysomethings than a couple of sixtysomething CEOs?

Quibi, you see, stands for “quick bites.” The idea is to produce brand-new, premium-quality content by famed directors like Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Antoine Fuqua and Catherine Hardwicke and present them in short, easy-to-digest chunks—no more than 10 minutes at a time, the perceived attention span of people born after the mid-’90s. The content won’t be available on TV sets (sooo, 1980s). Instead, Quibi will be distributed through a new mobile app for viewing on mobile phones.

“We’re not Facebook Watch. We’re not Snapchat, We’re not Instagram TV. We’re not YouTube,” Whitman told The
Los Angeles Times in a recent interview. Except, of course, that they are. “The kids” have already chosen their allies in the battle for pop cultural attention. Because of mobile video, the amount of time teens spend watching TV has decreased 40 percent in the last few years. Young people would much rather watch Hannah Stocking talk about mascara on their smartphone for 10 minutes than sit through an entire 30-minute episode of “The Good Place” on NBC. Whether the founders are billing it this way or not, Quibi will basically be home to the world’s most expensive web series.

At the end of the day, Katzenberg and Whitman just want a slice of that sweet, sweet Millennial demographic pie. And they’re not alone. Quibi raised eyebrows in the business world last year when they pulled in a billion dollars in financing from Disney, WarnerMedia and other major studios (who, keep in mind, are still dumping billions into their own exclusive streaming services).

Quibi is expected to charge about $5 a month with ads and $8 a month without ads when it launches in April of 2020. Companies such as Google, Walmart and Procter & Gamble have already signed on as advertisers, dumping $150 million into Quibi’s coffers. The ads will appear as unskippable 6-, 10- and 15-second blips before Quibi videos (assuming you aren’t forking out the extra $3 a month). Between the major Hollywood studio support and the Madison Avenue vote of confidence, Quibi has the dough to lure some big-time movie industry talent.

Katzenberg and Whitman are promising “7,000 pieces of content” in the service’s first year. That sounds like a lot. But keep in mind, most of that content will only be a few minutes in length. So “binge watching” an entire series is something you might be able to knock out while standing in line at Starbucks waiting for your chai creme frappuccino blended creme. So what can today’s media-addicted 18-to-35-year-olds expect to see on Quibi when it debuts next year? “Spielberg’s After Dark” is a scary anthology series that will be available for streaming exclusively at night. Veena Sud, the showrunner for AMC’s dark crime drama “The Killing,” is developing a 10-minute series called “The Stranger”—about a ride-share driver who picks up a killer. Evidently, you can watch it in either “vertical” or “horizontal” orientation. Another series that caught the internet’s attention recently is Quibi’s proposed “Murder House Flip.” It’s a reality show that will have renovation experts (and spiritual healers) making over infamous homes that were the scenes of morbid crimes.

While Quibi’s content sounds like a bunch of tried-and-true Hollywood ideas, perhaps vertical TV shows, 10-minute movies and exclusive ringtones announcing new episodes (another promised Quibi innovation) are enough to lure fickle Millennials to spend even more of their waking hours staring at their smartphones.
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