×

Quibi Has Already Booked $100 Million in Ad Sales, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Say

Quibi, the ambitious short-form video venture from Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory with six advertisers ahead of its April 2020 debut.

Advertisers that have committed ad spending to Quibi include Google, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev, according to the company. The $100 million in deals represents two-thirds of Quibi’s $150 million in first-year ad inventory.

Whitman, in an interview at Variety Studio at Cannes presented by Inscape & iSpot.tv, said Quibi inked the deals after going to pitch marketers starting in the February. “What we aspired to do was build a platform that advertisers would love,” she said. “We wanted to get a small number of innovative, iconic brands to help us do that.”

Asked how Quibi was able to book the deals, Katzenberg quipped, “I got Meg Whitman — that’s what I did,” referring to the former CEO of HP and eBay. “She closed the deals. My job was easy.”

Each of the initial ad clients are category-exclusive, according to Whitman (i.e., P&G is the sole consumer packaged goods advertiser). Quibi is looking to sign perhaps two or three more such deals. It won’t sign a telecom advertiser, though, because Quibi is in the midst of negotiating an exclusive distribution deal with a U.S. wireless provider, Whitman added. Hollywood movie studios, most of which have invested in Quibi, also will be advertisers on the service.

Quibi has set April 6, 2020, as its launch date. The mobile-only subscription video service will include premium scripted and unscripted content, chunked into sub-10-minute episodes. Quibi will cost $5 monthly with ads and $8 for an ad-free tier.

Quibi is offering advertisers what it claims will be an uncluttered environment: The version of the service with ads will include a single, non-skippable preroll ad (of 6, 10, or 15 seconds) that runs before Quibi episodes. The company also is developing other new ad formats.

If Quibi fails to deliver on audience guarantees it’s made to upfront advertisers in the first year of operations, it will provide make-goods, Whitman said.

For the launch next April, Katzenberg said Quibi is plotting a big kick-off event. “We’ve been talking about some interesting ideas — sort of a convergence of South by Southwest meets Sundance meets the Golden Globes,” he said. “And I say that because we have talent from movies, from television, from sports, from fashion, from beauty… from news, because Quibi is in all of those areas.”

The company has raised $1 billion from investors including Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, WarnerMedia, Lionsgate, MGM, ITV and Entertainment One. Quibi forecasts spending a little over that amount — $1.1 billion — on content in Year One, Whitman said, with a target of some 7,000 short-form episodes. The company is seeking to raise an additional $500 million, either later this year or early 2020, which will take the company to breakeven, Whitman said.

“It’s a safety net,” Katzenberg said about the additional funding. “You want to look for funding when you don’t need funding.” The L.A.-based company currently has about 160 employees.

Katzenberg asserted that Quibi’s mobile-only approach — delivering premium content in snackable episodes throughout the day — makes it very different from other streaming players like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video or upcoming services like Disney Plus and WarnerMedia’s subscription VOD package. “Mobile video is the white space,” he said. Whitman added, though, that Quibi users will be able to cast shows from their phones to TVs.

Quibi (a portmanteau of “quick bites”) has announced a slew of projects from partners including Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi, Jason Blum, Steven Soderbergh, Catherine Hardwick, Anna Kendrick, Doug Liman, Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media. Steven Spielberg is creating “After Dark,” a horror series users will be able to watch only between sundown and sunrise local time, and Quibi also has ordered shows featuring Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Don Cheadle and Idris Elba as well as a remake of MTV’s “Punk’d.”

According to Katzenberg, Quibi is paying production partners cost plus 20% — up to $6 million an hour. Quibi will license the episodic versions of the projects exclusively for seven years, while the creators will have rights to a film-length version after two years to shop to other distribution channels.

Quibi won’t include any licensed content. That’s because it wants premium originals specifically produced for mobile viewing, according to Katzenberg. He said he doesn’t plan to produce any shows himself for Quibi. “I’m a curator,” he said.

More TV

  • Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and

    Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and Heroic' 'Years and Years' Character

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth episode of “Years and Years.” Russell T. Davies’ limited series “Years and Years” began with a birth, but it did not wait until the finale to book-end the story with a death. In the fourth episode of the multi-year spanning family drama, [...]

  • Hugh GRant photographed by Shayan Asgharnia

    Listen: Hugh Grant on Why He Would Kill Social Media if He Could

    Hugh Grant has been very active in U.K. press reform initiatives, but he knows the problem is even bigger than the media moguls who control the world’s major news outlets. That’s why Hacked Off, the campaign he’s involved with, is also expanding its scope to include the impact of online propaganda. “It’s particularly terrifying, the [...]

  • Veronica Mars -- "Heads You Lose"

    TV Review: 'Veronica Mars' Season 4

    “Veronica Mars” was a slap to the face of high school dramas when it premiered on UPN in 2004. Creator Rob Thomas took the well-worn “who killed the pretty teenager?” whodunnit and hard-boiled it, following a traumatized girl desperately trying to harden herself to the world’s harsh realities as she tried to solve the case. [...]

  • Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow

    Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow to Launch New Era at 'CBS Evening News'

    Though Norah O’Donnell had her first turn as anchor of “CBS Evening News” Monday night, she didn’t rely on any attention-grabbing tricks to carry the day. There was no flashy drawing board, no rattling off of unsettling, urgent headlines and no wrap-up of the day with a mawkish end segment calling up some element of [...]

  • Alton Brown

    TV News Roundup: Food Network Announces Premiere Date of 'Good Eats: The Return'

    In today’s roundup, Showtime releases a full-length trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Food Network announces the return of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”  DATES After taking a break from the series, Alton Brown will bring “Good Eats” back to Food Network’s primetime lineup with “Good Eats: The Return.”  In its first [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content