Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman took the stage Wednesday morning at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas at the Park MGM theater to give a look at the much-buzzed-about mobile streaming short-form platform. This was the first time that Quibi has shown their innovative platform to an audience — and the audience at CES was into it.
The panel started with a video that showed the evolution of entertainment consumption before including glimpses of some of the platform’s A-list creators including Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, Antoine Fuqua, Peter Farrelly, Catherine Hardwicke and Reese Witherspoon. The video was really selling us on the innovation of Quibi and how “the future is in our hands” — literally.
Katzenberg took the stage to talk about how Quibi is essentially a platform for Hollywood-caliber “stories optimized for viewing on the go.” He said he was inspired by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and how each chapter was four to five pages long and how it was perfect bite-sized chunks to tell a bigger story. He also referenced how TV writers have been doing this sort of storytelling for decades, writing series with act breaks and keeping audiences engaged — and he applied all of this to Quibi.
The partnership between Katzenberg and Whitman is perfect as the former is more of the right-brain creative type, while the latter is the left-brain analytical type. Whitman took the stage and echoed the video and what Katzenberg said before her saying that they are looking to “make mobile moments extraordinary.”
Whitman said that they are a mobile-only platform but they are “not shrinking TV on to phones.” She added, “We are creating something new and powerful” — and that is very true. They recently secured $400 million in second-round funding and they have the star wattage with a full roster of Hollywood A-listers that was shown in the sizzle.
Spielberg has After Dark premiering on the platform, which is a horror series that can only be watched after dark while Hardwicke is working on a series called Don’t Look Deeper. Farrelly has the comedy The Now and del Toro is developing a modern story. Fuqua has the drama #Freerayshawn and as for Witherspoon, she is connected to Quibi via her husband, Jim Toth, head of content acquisition and talent.
Chief Product Officer Tom Conrad, who Deadline talked to prior to the CES presentation, took the stage to talk about the Turnstyle (as opposed to “turnstile”) technology which allows users to change the perspective of the show when you hold the phone in portrait mode versus when you hold it vertically. He shared a clip from Doug Liman’s More Crazy Talented, a superhero tale with a twist to demonstrate Turnstyle, but it was showcased even more with a short made by Zach Wechter called Nest, a thriller about a woman being harassed by a home intruder.
From this, Wechter came out on the stage with Tye Sheridan, who stars in another project he’s producing called Wireless, about a man who is trapped in his car in a snowstorm after an accident with very limited battery life on his phone — and Quibi is the perfect platform for that. The footage shown of Wireless, like Nest, takes full advantage of the two-perspective Turnstyle aspect of Quibi, making for dynamic storytelling, impressing the audience even more.
Rob Post, Quibi’s Chief Technology Officer said “Our goal is to get users to the right content” and added, “We are obsessing over mobile video like no one else” before showing more details about the platform including a vertical scrubber and a feature that allows you to pick segments from their news programming.
At the end of it all, Katzenberg said that they are looking to have 175 original shows as well as 8,500 quick bites of content including comedies, dramas, news and reality series in three tiers of content including features, episodic and “Daily Essentials.”
Whitman added, “Quibi will inform, entertain and inspire.”