Hollywood news banter: questions on Quibi, layoffs at Endeavor

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With people staying home, TV viewership continues to be on the rise. Several new streaming services were planned to launch in the coming months. Some viewers are asking: Can they push the release dates sooner? 

In reality, these streamers are scrambling to meet their original launch dates because the tough technical work must now be done remotely. 

NBCU’s streaming service Peacock has hit some bumps. The service was set for a July unveiling, timed to the Olympics. With the Olympics now postponed, they’ve lost that platform to advertise the service. Peacock will now have to depend solely on library content. That’s not the scenario NBCU envisioned a few weeks ago. 

One of the big draws of upcoming streamer HBO Max was a “Friends” reunion special. That too has been postponed. HBO Max was originally set to launch in May. For now, they’re still holding to that date. 

There’s also the new service Quibi, which is scheduled to drop on April 6. It’s the project of Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman. Quibi is their big attempt to put A-list stars on a small screen for short videos. The bite-sized content is made specifically for mobile viewing and designed to appeal to young adults. The idea is that viewers would watch it on the subway or while waiting in line. But will the appeal still be there while watching at home? And some in Hollywood are skeptical that the young demographic is going to pay a monthly fee of $5 (with ads) or $8 (without ads).

Looking at the Hollywood talent agencies, it’s a difficult road ahead. With production at a standstill, hardly any money is coming into any of the agencies. UTA announced pay cuts. Paradigm has laid off 100 people. Endeavor, the biggest agency of them all, is looking to cut 250 people to start. 

Endeavor is in an especially precarious situation. The company went on a huge acquisition spree in recent years, buying IMG, UFC, and outfits that specialize in live events. Now they’re $4.6 billion in debt.  Their attempt to be the first talent agency to go public faltered last fall when they had to pull their IPO. The company may now look to sell off some of those assets in the coming months. 

Credits

Guest:
Matthew Belloni - Hollywood Reporter - @THRMattBelloni

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker