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Quibi’s Demise Spurs Hand-Wringing for TV Partners

quibi Illustration
Cheyne Gateley/Variety Intellige

When CBS News launched a new version of its popular “60 Minutes” for Quibi earlier this year, it was seen as a much-needed way to extend a venerable TV brand into the media venues younger viewers covet. The six-minute “60 in 6” featured an array of new correspondents and tackled QAnon, race relations and more.

Now CBS faces the prospect of keeping the show going with another partner or under its own steam.

The demise of Quibi, the short-form video service led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, will cause complications for a wide range of TV partners who supplied new and often innovative programming to the streaming upstart, which promised to deliver top-quality entertainment in episodes that would last ten minutes or less. NBC News, the BBC, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Kevin Hart, Queen Latifah and Chrissy Teigen were among the popular actors and media entities that latched on to the venture.

Several programming partners were unable to provide immediate comment on what Quibi’s end meant for their work, including Blumhouse, which has produced horror series for Quibi. A spokesman for “60 Minutes” was not able to make executives available for comment, but two people familiar with the show’s Quibi offshoot say they have seen indications from top producers that their efforts are valued and that CBS News intends to find a way to keep the program going.  “Some of the correspondents who were hired for this ’60 in 6’ show may one day work on the Sunday show,” Bill Owens, the executive producer of  “60 Minutes,” told Variety in March.  Approximately 30 people staff “60 in 6.”

Other companies also maintained sizable staffs to produce series for Quibi. At NBC News, some staffers who worked for the unit’s now-shuttered Peacock Productions were given work on several Quibi series. Four programs –  “Morning Report,” “Evening Report,” “Saturday Report” and “Sunday Report,” – offer different things to subscribers based on what they are most likely to crave at certain moments in their daily or weekly routines. The programs were devised to last five to eight minutes, depending on when they aired and the subjects they tackled.

NBC News did not offer immediate comment on what might happen to those productions after Quibi shuts down. A BBC spokesman was also not able to offer immediate comment.

Others expressed confusion. One studio, which is currently producing multiple series with Quibi, has heard nothing from the company, according to a person familiar with the matter, and executives remain unclear on the future of its shows, at least one of which was picked up for a second season.

Some may look to craft other alliances. CBS Studios intends to shop the Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz high-proflie action series “Most Dangerous Game,” to other venues. Quibi had renewed it for a second season prior to folding.

Meanwhile, Matt Rogers, host of Quibi’s “Gayme Show,” posted a series of tweets noting he originally pitched the show to Netflix,  and said that he’s “enthusiastic about taking (‘Gayme Show’) elsewhere.” In  each episode of the series, two contestants who identify as straight vie with a celebrity “life partner” while squaring off against a series of challenges.   Quibi had previously renewed “Gayme Show” for a second season but Rogers’ comments suggest that  the series has run out of time in Quibi’s very short corporate cycle.