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Defying its rocky start, Quibi scores multiple 2020 Emmy nominations

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Quibi, the short-form streaming service that got off to a shaky start in April, hasn’t had much to crow about since its launch. Until now.

The mobile-only network snagged 10 Emmy nominations Tuesday morning, all of them — unsurprisingly — in the awards ceremony’s short-form categories.

Quibi performers dominated the short-form acting categories, with four nominees out of five on both the actor and actress lists. Oscar nominees Anna Kendrick and Laurence Fishburne and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz are among the Quibi nominees.

More than two months after its launch, the much-hyped subscription service Quibi hasn’t lived up to its promise, analysts say.

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Also nominated for short-form acting: Stephan James and Jasmine Cephas Jones for "#FreeRayshawn,” Kaitlin Olson for “Flipped,” Kerri Kenney-Silver for “Reno 911" and Corey Hawkins for “Survive.”

In the race for outstanding short-form drama or comedy series, Quibi’s “Reno 911!” and “Most Dangerous Game” are up against short-form efforts linked to three established series, “Better Call Saul,” “The Good Place” and “Star Trek.”

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“Reno 911!” official trailer

It’s a rare bit of good news for the unusual network, which was designed to be watched in short chunks by people on the go. After starting out near the top of the app-download lists in the week after its April 6 debut, Quibi’s popularity plummeted. Like, fell-off-a-cliff plummeted.

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And that was with a 90-day free trial. (The premium service costs $4.99 a month with ads or $7.99 monthly without.)

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“Most Dangerous Game” official trailer

Founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the network’s shaky launch. The service stopped marketing in early June and hasn’t released any new programming, Chief Executive Whitman told the Los Angeles Times last month.

“These are truly pivotal and unprecedented times,” Whitman said, referring to the pandemic and the current national discussion about race. “We needed to take the time to step back, be a part of this discussion.”

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Cofounder Katzenberg expressed his disappointment in early subscriber numbers to the New York Times in May. The network promised 7 million paying subscribers in its first year but so far has fallen millions short of that goal.

“Is it the avalanche of people that we wanted and were going for out of launch?” he said of the well-funded streamer. “The answer is no. It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted.”

But, he added later, “I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus. Everything. But we own it.”

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Perhaps an Emmy or two will add to Quibi’s appeal.

“Watchmen,” the revolutionary HBO series about a Black vigilante superhero, planted its groundbreaking flag at the 2020 Emmy nominations Tuesday morning.


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