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- Tim Connolly, a former Hulu executive who last year joined Quibi as head of partnerships and advertising, left the mobile TV startup founded by Jeff Katzenberg and Meg Whitman. Connolly’s position was eliminated, and the company doesn’t have plans to replace him, an unnamed source told Variety.
- Quibi also reorganized its ad partnerships team under Nicole McCormack, who now reports to CEO Whitman. McCormack joined Quibi from Flipboard, where she most recently was SVP of revenue strategy and operations.
- Quibi’s reorganization comes as the company prepares to launch a subscription video service in April 2020. Its streaming platform will consist of an ad-supported version that costs $4.99 a month, and an ad-free tier for $7.99 a month. Quibi’s content will feature shows designed for mobile viewing, including short-form videos that shape longer narratives.
Connolly’s departure from Quibi is surprising considering that he was a high-profile hire, and the startup is about eight months away from going live. The company recently secured $100 million in upfront ad commitments with the help of Connolly. Whitman in June said she had helped to lead the pitches to advertisers such as Google, Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev. The ad deals are category-exclusive, giving each brand control of industry verticals — such as packaged goods — on the platform. As of June, Quibi had $50 million remaining in its ad inventory to sell.
Quibi is entering an increasingly crowded market for streaming content as Apple, Disney, AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Comcast’s NBCUniversal plan to launch their own over-the-top platforms in the next eight months. Those platforms are more likely to be a threat to Netflix, whose viewership is mostly on connected TVs. By creating content specifically for mobile platforms, Quibi is more aligned to compete with social media companies like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter that are expanding their original video programming.
Meanwhile, Quibi touts seasoned executives like Katzenberg and Whitman and strong financial backing, including $1 billion from investors such as Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, WarnerMedia, Lionsgate and Katzenberg’s WndrCo holding company.
The shadow of Go90, Verizon’s now-shuttered mobile streaming service, looms over Quibi. Like the startup, Go90 carried unscripted and scripted original mobile video aimed at younger audiences who have shifted away from broadcast and cable TV in recent years. Go90 received roughly $1.2 billion in technology and content investments from its parent company across three years of operation. Advertisers were similarly excited about Go90, providing $50 million in upfront ad commitments ahead of its 2015 rollout, according to Ad Age, but the platform never scored a significant audience, and Verizon pulled the plug last July.