The fat wad of cash Quibi has spent on high-end programming paid dividends in one area, at least: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s streamer picked up 10 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations in short form categories.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Emmys nods (or even wins) can move the needle for Quibi, which has had a tough time signing up subscribers since premium mobile entertainment app’s launch earlier this spring — at the front end of the COVID-19 crisis.
And note that Quibi’s nominations all fall in the Emmys’ short form brackets, which are less competitive — and less prestigious — than the traditional TV categories.
Quibi notched two nominations for short form comedy or drama series, for “Reno 911,” a revival of Comedy Central’s “Reno 911” cop spoof, and for dystopian thriller “Most Dangerous Game,” starring Liam Hemsworth.
Quibi’s “#FreeRayshawn,” a police drama from executive producer Antoine Fuqua, scored three nominations: Laurence Fishburne (as Lt. Steven Poincy) and Stephan James (as Rayshawn) nabbed actor nods for short form comedy or drama series, and Jasmine Cephas Jones (as Tyisha) picked up a nod for actress.
Anna Kendrick was nominated for actress in a short form comedy or drama series for Cody Heller’s “Dummy,” for her turn as a woman who befriends her boyfriend’s sex doll. Kaitlin Olson also was nominated for dark comedy “Flipped” and Kerri Kenney-Silver earned a nomination for “Reno 911.”
Christoph Waltz got a nod in the short-form actor category for “Most Dangerous Game,” while Corey Hawkins was nominated for plane-crash drama “Survive.”
Quibi has banked $1.75 billion in funding from Hollywood studios and other investors, and the company’s execs have boasted of paying top dollar for its originals from A-listers — shelling out up to $100,000 per minute of programming.
But despite the Hollywood cachet of its pricey content, Quibi has fallen short of its business plan. The app converted just 8% of initial free-trial users to paying subs, according to a third-party researcher, while at its current pace Quibi stands to have fewer than 2 million customers (less than 30% of its goal) in the first year of operation, the Wall Street Journal reported. Quibi has disputed
One issue for Quibi: It launched as a mobile-only service, frustrating users who wanted to watch the cinematic shows on TVs; subsequently, the company added the ability to “cast” streams from Apple iOS and Android mobile apps. Moreover, Quibi faces competition from much larger subscription-streaming players like Netflix and Disney on the one hand, and on the other hand is vying for attention against free short-form video on apps like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.
Katzenberg, who has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for Quibi’s woes, has stuck to his guns on the streamer’s model. “I’m still quite optimistic this is gonna work,” he said last month.