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Future of Media: Quibyebye, Disney+ becomes social, Borat's back, Netflix slows


By John McCarthy | Media editor

October 22, 2020 | 7 min read

This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you’d like it your inbox once a week.


Future of Media: Quibyebye, Disney+ becomes social, Borat's back, Netflix slows

John McCarthy here. I'm just back from a birthday bash break.

This week I disengaged with the media; except games, Netflix, TV and live sports, podcasts, radio, social networks and messaging apps. I confess: the digital detox didn't go so well, but the resulting failure did get me to think about how content attracts my constant attention. This week, there were scarce few seconds I wasn't met with a screen and an ad.

And that leads us to a company that lost the attention game.


Shortform premium video company Quibi seemingly wasn't on anyone's attention agenda. My time engaging with it was mostly tweeting lame jokes.

So here we are, it looks like the end of a very short-lived road for Jeffrey Katzenberg's mobile reinvention of video streaming.

Tom Jarvis, founder of the Wilderness Agency, offered a scathing take on how it never stood a chance. Even Katzenberg "can’t dictate the terms of consumption," he said. "Quibi stood outside of this society and the networks it needed to be a part of in order to survive."

Read it here.

Social video

Jarvis beautifully described how content lives and breathes and evolves on social – it's the interactions between people that generates buzz, as much as the quality of the content itself.

So to that idea, in the UK, Disney+ rolled out a new feature called GroupWatch allowing seven accounts to co-watch shows and react with emojis. There are a few things at play here:

  • We are all at home and isolated (probably).

  • The social experience of cinema is basically kaput.

  • Twitch is showing the power of shared viewership.

With its extensive catalogue, including Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, Nat Geo and Marvel, and perhaps Halloween gems, you can see this feature really solidifying Disney+'s USP as the family-focused streaming service. Especially if talk of 'digital Christmasses' is to be believed.

Catch up with that one here.

Netflix plateaus... again

This isn't a hugely complex one. Netflix's growth from July to September was eight times slower than Q1 and five times slower than Q2. Simply put, the pandemic accelerated uptake. Then the subsequent economic crash bit into the hindered content pipeline and user retention.

At 193m global subscribers, however, it closes in on an important landmark. Disney+ has just the 60m (remarkably quickly acquired of course).

The SVOD realm is heating up, and these firms are going to have to grow the category, not battle over customers who will probably pay for both, if they want to see the benefit.

Read it here.

Borat's back

How did we get to the stage that comedy relic Borat made it into a Future of Media column? Nonetheless, Sacha Baron Cohen has brought his Kazakh icon to Amazon Prime Video and has been marking quite a stir globally with provocative stunts.

As a challenger in the space, Amazon's keen to be provocative. You may remember how it had a Nazi takeover of the NYC subway to promote the Man in the High Castle.

Ethics and taste aside, Quibi may have learned a thing or two about how bold marketing can get attention on 'premium' content. It's now safe to say, Quibi, 'You will never get this!'

Check out the Borat work here, it's nice.

Other Stuff

Well, that’s this week’s round-up. If you missed the last one, APAC's Shawn Lim summarised it here.

Got a tip, a correction, a complaint, want a chat? I'm at or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.

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