HBO Max Is Still without Amazon and Roku Deals, but Quibi Eyes Both
Could Quibi score a big deal both Amazon and Roku have failed to make?
HBO Max officially launched towards the end of May, and its opening weeks have been marked by controversy, both related to the service's decision to temporarily remove “Gone With the Wind” from its library, the since-alleviated confusion over the streaming service’s name, and parent company AT&T's failure to reach a deal to make HBO Max available on Roku or Amazon Fire devices.
While there's no sign of that last problem being resolved, one of HBO Max's competitors is eying deals with both: The controversial short-form streaming service Quibi.
According to Variety, Quibi is in talks with Roku and Amazon to bring its app to those platforms. The reports said that talks with Amazon have "recently picked back up," while the Roku talks are "in very early stages."
Quibi, which launched at the beginning of April, had originally planned to only make itself available on mobile devices, at least at first.
But the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Quibi reportedly falling significantly short of its subscriber goals, has led the company to rethink its strategy, with announcements in recent weeks about Quibi's shows being available on both Apple TV and Google Chromecast. The company had planned to provide content for young people, "on the go," who were eager for shorter-form content. But the pandemic meant that, just as Quibi was launching, no one was "on the go" anymore.
Ever since its launch, Quibi has been plagued by bad press, and numerous reports that its formula of big stars appearing in videos lasting ten minutes or less has failed to catch on with consumers. The company, which was capitalized to the tune of nearly $2 billion at the time of its launch, is reportedly on pace to reach 2 million subscribers by the time of its first anniversary, well short of its goal of 7.4 million, according to numbers published by the Wall Street Journal, although the company has disputed those totals. Quibi offered 90-day free trials for subscribers, which will begin to run out early next month.
“I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus," founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, the well-known Hollywood executive known from his time with Disney and DreamWorks in the 1980s and 1990s, told The New York Times last month.
Quibi has also been criticized for not allowing social media users to screenshot its shows, a policy that has prevented any of the service's content from developing any kind of viral following.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.