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Quibi aims to launch 5,000 'quick bite' videos when it debuts

Quibi aims to launch 5,000 'quick bite' videos when it debuts
Quibi Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, shown here at an industry forum in October, on Wednesday provided new details on their digital TV service at a Variety summit in West Hollywood. (Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images)

Quibi, a new digital TV venture backed by former DreamWorks Animation executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, said Wednesday that it plans to launch 5,000 “quick bite” videos of under 10 minutes when it debuts as early as next year.

The company, which began in August and recently signed a lease on an office in Hollywood, has ambitious plans to change the way shows are consumed by taking stories told in two to four hours and segmenting them in “quick bite” videos that are consumed in 10 minutes or less.

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Quibi has already signed on several large studios and networks that are creating content for its platform, including Walt Disney Co. and WarnerMedia. The service, which will compete against other streaming video services, will charge a monthly fee of $5 with ads and $8 without ads. It could launch in late 2019 or in early 2020, said Quibi CEO Meg Whitman at a Variety summit held in West Hollywood on Wednesday.

“We have one chance to launch and we need it to be absolutely perfect,” Whitman said.

She emphasized that while Quibi will deliver short videos under 10 minutes in duration, the offering will be different than short-form videos on platforms like YouTube.

“YouTube has done a fantastic job, but what we want to do is to do what HBO did when they launched,” Whitman said. “It will be that much of a step up in quality and storytelling.”

Already, Quibi has announced some high-profile directors and producers that are creating content for its platform. For example, director Catherine Hardwicke, who worked on the 2008 film “Twilight,” is working on a thriller about an artificial intelligence character, Katzenberg said.

Katzenberg said Quibi is willing to spend big for its shows, adding that it pays for 100% of costs and also provides a premium. The company is willing to pay up to $6 million per hour for long-form content, he said. Long-form content will be consumed by Quibi users in short, “quick-bite” videos of under 10 minutes.

Quibi has an exclusive seven-year license to the short-form content it pays for and does not own the content after that, he said. After two years, Katzenberg said, people can take that content and put it in a longer form that’s over 21 minutes and can shop those shows elsewhere.

“Our deal is one of the most attractive deals that anybody can [get] today,” he said.

Whitman said the company began its business in August and now has 48 employees.

“We’re off and running and we’re excited about it,” she said.

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