A new streaming service aimed at providing short-form programming for viewers watching on their mobile devices is striking deals with some of the biggest names in the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres.
According to Variety, the service, called Quibi (short for "quick bites"), has already ordered series from filmmakers Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) and Sam Raimi (Ash vs. Evil Dead), in addition to Blumhouse mastermind Jason Blum.
Quibi is the brainchild of former Disney and Dreamworks exec Jeffrey Katzenberg and one-time Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who gave a sneak preview of Quibi's potential slate during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday (Oct. 10).
Blum's project, titled Wolves and Villagers, was described by Katzenberg as "Fatal Attraction 2.0," while Raimi is developing a horror anthology series called 50 States of Fear that will focus on frightening folklore tales from all 50 states in America. The project that Del Toro is developing remains a secret for now.
Katzenberg and Whitman's company, WndrCo, has reportedly raised $1 billion from all the major Hollywood studios, Chinese tech conglomerate Alibaba, and other entities to fund Quibi, which will aim to deliver big-budget, cinematic programming in short doses, formatted specifically for viewing on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Both the mobile Quibi app and the first shows are about a year out from launching, according to Katzenberg and Whitman. The pair are looking at making it a subscription service, with a $5/month plan that includes ads and an $8/month package that is ad-free.
There are still big questions about the service, the largest being: Will viewers want to watch short series installments — say 10 minutes per segment — on their phones? While a separate Variety report acknowledges that the time spent on mobile viewing has risen sharply in the past three years, most consumers still do the vast majority of their viewing on big screens, whether it's from streaming services or traditional broadcast and cable channels.
The second question is: Can Quibi compete with the immense glut of services out there now, and also arriving soon, ranging from Netflix to Hulu to upcoming platforms being launched by Disney and Warner Bros.?
The answer to the latter depends to some degree on the programming, and one never wants to bet against names like Del Toro, Raimi, and Blum. Do you think these guys can come up with material compelling enough — even in bite-sized form — to make you want to tune in on your phone?