Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals with ESPN and 60 Minutes

Quibi, the short-form video platform co-founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, signed two new content partners. The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN will provide a daily sports highlights show, which will debut with Quibi’s April launch and be part of that platform’s Daily Essentials. According to Katzenberg, Daily Essentials will curate content and “make it convenient” to viewers. CBS News’ “60 Minutes” will also create “60 in 6,” a version of original news stories condensed into six-minute long episodes specifically for Quibi.

The New York Times reports that, “the partnership with Quibi is a piece of ESPN’s overall mobile strategy,” which includes its own streaming service, ESPN+, as well as content for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

“If there is an audience building around a sports conversation and looking for sports content, we want to be there, we want to lead that,” said ESPN executive vice president Connor Schell. “We think Quibi is a natural extension of that.” Quibi will pay ESPN to create the show; ESPN will retain ownership and license it back to Quibi. Schell said, “the company is hiring a team to create it while also looking for a host or two.”

Katzenberg and Whitman “have raised an estimated $1 billion for the project from Disney, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Entertainment.” China’s Alibaba Group is another investor, and strategic partners include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Liberty Global. Directors Antoine Fuqua, Steven Soderbergh and Steven Spielberg have signed on to produce 10-minute scripted shows.

TechCrunch reports that, “60 Minutes will produce one original story per week as part of the licensing agreement.” NBC is also contributing to Quibi (short for “quick bites”), with a six-minute morning and evening news show, and the BBC and Quibi are “developing an international news show for millennials, that’s five minutes in length.”

Katzenberg reported that Quibi will also feature “a variety of entertainment offerings from big-name talent, like Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, and producer Jason Blum, among others” as well as “a show about Snapchat’s founding, an action-thriller starring Liam Hemsworth, a murder mystery comedy from SNL’s Lorne Michaels, a beauty docuseries from Tyra Banks, a Steven Spielberg horror show, a comedy from Thomas Lennon, a car-stunt series with Idris Elba, a comedy series from Trevor Noah, a drama with Queen Latifah, a thriller with Sophie Turner, and more.”

TechCrunch notes that Quibi, which will deliver content in horizontal and vertical formats, aims to be “a Netflix for the Snapchat generation … a risky endeavor, given that the targeted demographic — Gen’s Y and Z — is quite happy with their Netflix subscriptions for higher-production value entertainment, and with YouTube for more casual video viewing from the creator community.”

Quibi will also compete with “other time fillers” including Apple Arcade, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. Quibi, which will cost $5 per month or $8 ad-free, reported that it has booked $100 million in ad sales pre-launch.

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