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Week In Review: Quibi And Women Of A Certain Age, HBO Max Misfire

1. Quibi And Women Of A Certain Age

In a twist that absolutely no one saw coming, it seems that the demographic most taken with Quibi, the new mobile-only, short form pay TV service from Jeff Katzenberg is…older female viewers.

Why It Matters

According to Bloomberg, the hapless service is tweaking its program slate to feature more unscripted programming (e.g., talk and reality type shows) and less scripted shows. 

The two most popular programs are “The Rachel Hollis Show” and “Chrissy’s Court” starring a motivational speaker and former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, respectively. 

Quibi describes the former as “best-selling author, blogger, and podcaster Rachel Hollis has helped millions of women find more joy and purpose in their lives. Now she’s here to level up YOUR life with a daily dose of motivation and lifestyle inspiration.”

The latter is billed as “Real people. Real cases. And real, legally binding decisions. If you thought Chrissy Teigen couldn’t become an actual courtroom judge, you’ve been overruled.” [NB: Tiegen’s mom serves as “bailiff” on the show.]

And then they wonder why no one wants to spend money to subscribe to the service…

While that’s a harsh statement, it does indicate that there’s a niche for Quibi in producing a version of the daytime TV programming that doesn’t take up too much brain space and can easily be condensed to 10 minutes or so. 

The question is whether they can get enough older women (and others) to pay five dollars a month to watch that sort of programming on their phones. 

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re one of the other Flixes, you can reaffirm your earlier take that you’ve got nothing to fear from Quibi.

If you’re HGTV, TLC, Bravo or another network that creates similar programming, this might be a good time to think about how setting up your own short form service could work. Many of these shows, while they are technically on-air for 30 minutes, only feature about 10 minutes of original content because of all the flashbacks and flash-forwards. So it seems like it could be a perfect medium for you now that you know your core demographic is into it.

If you’re Quibi–this may not be the niche you were hoping for, but it’s one you can own. Now you just need to figure out how to get enough people to pay $5/month to subscribe. That’s on you.

2.  HBO Max Misfire

HBO Max launched this week but the launch wasn’t without a couple of serious misfires. 

You can’t download the app on either Roku or Amazon Fire TV, the two most popular streaming devices.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, anyone who had HBO Now on their iPhone or iPad saw the app automatically updated to Max…and then, if they subscribed through Amazon and Roku, they got a message telling them that sorry, they had the wrong kind of subscription for Max, so try again later.

Why It Matters

First impressions matter.

A lot.

Especially in a crowded market.

And with the pandemic forcing all the new originals AT&T would rather have been talking about into limbo, the subscription issues became the main story, with numerous “see if you can upgrade to HBO Max” type service pieces, which only serve to reinforce the notion that this is yet another example of the old school, consumer-unfriendly, TV universe (as exemplified by AT&T) as opposed to the new consumer-friendly TV universe that Netflix brought about.

Which is double plus ungood in a world where AT&T wants to charge $15/month for something its competitors are all charging considerably less for. 

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re AT&T, you need to do something to get out from that negative PR cycle. I know Amazon and Roku feel like they have the upper hand here and may be squeezing you, but remember they don’t have as much to lose as you do.

But mostly you need to get viewers to understand that this is on Amazon and Roku and not you, because when they saw their iPhone app updated to Max and a window popped up that said “Sorry chief! You don’t have the right subscription to upgrade.” they figured that was 100% your doing.

And remember that all of about five people are going to figure out how/bother to use Apple AirPlay to move your shows from their laptops and iPhones to their TV sets, so you don’t have that to fall back on.

If you’re all the other Flixes, this is a very good lesson in what not to do.

If you’re a consumer who never thought HBO was worth $15/month, I’m wondering if all those new-old shows like Friends and the Harry Potter movies are going to be enough to change your minds. Somehow, I’m thinking “no.”