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Jeffrey Katzenberg reveals that Quibi will have telenovelas, the Snapchat story, and more–in April 2020

The ambitious $1 billion video startup will have news, late-night highlights, and serialized two-and-a-half-hour series in less than 10-minute chunks.

Jeffrey Katzenberg reveals that Quibi will have telenovelas, the Snapchat story, and more–in April 2020
[Photo: Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

During a keynote presentation at SXSW on Friday, Quibi cofounders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman dropped more teasers about their new, short-form mobile video platform–which, they announced, is going to launch in April 2020. The pair have been making the rounds in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, drumming up investors and talent for Quibi, a $5-a-month subscription service that will take long-form TV and film content and break it up into bite-sized bits between six and 10 minutes long.

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During the talk, Katzenberg, the former DreamWorks Animation CEO, said that Quibi would launch 100 pieces of new content every week, and that he and Whitman, the former president and CEO of Hewlett Packard, had received over 2,000 submissions over the past couple of months.  

Among that content will be a series based on the popular Telemundo telenovela El Señor de los Cielos that tells the backstory of the show’s characters (which was compared on stage to being its Godfather Part 2). Telemundo will produce the three-hour series, and it will be in Spanish with subtitles. Also on Quibi will be a music-competition show that’s being developed with music manager Scooter Braun, and a show called Thanks a Million with Jennifer Lopez. 

That series will have 10 “chapters,” Katzenberg said, and would begin with Lopez going back to a person from her early life who had changed her life in some way and giving them $100,000. In the next chapter, that person would then give $50,000 to a person who’d changed their life, and so on, in a pay-it-forward cycle.

Finally, the pair announced a series called Frat Boy Genius, which will be based on the life and career of Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel. Katzenberg said he hoped the series would be “Evan’s story as The Social Network was for Facebook” and its cofounder, Mark Zuckerberg.

The pair also gave more insight into how Quibi is approaching programming. Katzenberg said that Quibi would launch a “lighthouse”–a big TV series or film story–every other Monday that would be between two and two-and-a-half hours total and represent a combination of genres, including comedies, dramas, and thrillers. And twice a day–at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.–a six-and-a-half-minute news show will highlight the day’s headline news. It will be “hosted by someone who has trust and who can be as compelling to this generation as Peter Jennings was to my generation,” Katzenberg said.  Every morning there will also be a six-and-a-half curated segment on the best sketches, interviews, and moments from Late-Night TV. Then at noon, the BBC, which Katzenberg said is the most trusted news source for millennials, is producing a short segment on global news. 

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About the author

Nicole LaPorte is an LA-based senior writer for Fast Company who writes about where technology and entertainment intersect. She previously was a columnist for The New York Times and a staff writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and Variety

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