Eternal optimist Jeffrey Katzenberg on launching Quibi during a pandemic

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Jeffrey Katzenberg. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Jeffrey Katzenberg is nothing if not determined. The world is contending with a pandemic, which was not what he expected when he and Meg Whitman set an April 6 launch date for the Quibi streaming service. 

But that didn’t stop them from moving ahead with their offerings of short series designed to be watched on your phone. 

Quibi offers an eclectic array of shows — delivered in episodes of 10 minutes or less. It’s free for 90 days, then will cost $5 a month or $8 without ads. 

Even before the pandemic , there was plenty of skepticism in Hollywood about Quibi. But Katzenberg — a true salesman — raised $1.75 billion. That’s a lot for a service with no proof of concept, no library, and not much name recognition. 

Katzenberg is no stranger to gambling. As a young man, he worked in casino card rooms. We spoke to him a few days after Quibi came online. It’ll be months before we know if the streamer reaches the 20 million subscribers that analysts predict it needs to survive. It had 1.7 million downloads in its first week.

Before we asked Katzenberg about Quibi, he  shared some memories, starting when he was running Disney’s film studio in the late 1980s. Katzenberg tells us about a disastrous preview of “Roger Rabbit,” insists DreamWorks was a success in the end, and explains why he doesn’t like to look in the rearview mirror. 

Credits

Guest:
Jeffrey Katzenberg - Producer, former head of Walt Disney Studios, co-founder of DreamWorks, co-founder of Quibi

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker