Quibi had a rough start, with founder Jeffrey Katzenberg admitting in May that its early days were “not close to what we wanted.” But the streaming service, which offers videos of 10 minutes or less, got some validation Tuesday in the form of 10 Emmy nominations.
Katzenberg made his admission in a New York Times interview that noted the low downloads for the service, which is designed especially for phones. CNN dubbed Quibi “Netflix’s weirdest rival,” and the Observer surmised that it was “running out of time to turn its rough start around.”
Katzenberg blamed COVID-19, noting that the platform had been designed for “in-between moments” — waiting for trains, or for meetings to start — and that those moments occurred less often during quarantine.
The service bet big that younger viewers would embrace its model, raising $1.75 billion from Hollywood studios and other investors.
And on Tuesday, Emmy voters rewarded the service.
Quibi scored two of the five nominations in the Outstanding Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series, one for Most Dangerous Game, and one for Reno 911! They are up against nominees tied to long-form TV shows that often use shorts to hype the main series. The other nominees in the category are Better Call Saul Employee Training: Legal Ethics With Kim Wexler; The Good Place Presents: The Selection and Star Trek: Short Treks.
Quibi also earned four of the five nominations in the category Outstanding Actor In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series: Laurence Fishburne and Stephan James were nominated for #FreeRayshawn, Christoph Waltz was nominated for Most Dangerous Game, and Corey Hawkins was nominated for Survive. The only non-Quibi nominee was Mamoudou Athie for Oh Jerome, No (Cake).
Quibi also scored four out of five nominations in the Outstanding Actress In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series category: Anna Kendrick was nominated for Dummy, Kaitlin Olson for Flipped, Jasmine Cephas Jones for #FreeRayshawn, and Kerri Kenney-Silver for Reno 911! The sole non-Quibi nominee was Rain Valdez for Razor Tongue on YouTube.
Besides videos of 10 minutes and under, Quibi’s other defining characteristic is offering shows in a vertical or horizontal format. Catherine Hardwicke, director of the brand-new Quibi series Don’t Look Deeper, embraces it as a “mind-bending exercise.”
“If you turn it vertical, it’s a little bit more intimate, like you’re FaceTiming somebody,” she told MovieMaker. “If you have it in landscape, you see the environment and what’s influencing the person.”