When Silicon Valley Micromanages Hollywood, the Results Are Boring as Hell

Photo: Quibi
Photo: Quibi

With everyone clamouring to get into the streaming wars — from tech titans to industry veterans to Silicon Valley newbies with stupid amounts of funding to pump into something new that nobody asked for — one thing has become very clear: The big tech dweeb contenders are fucking it up, specifically by micromanaging the talent and opportunities they do have to create a product that doesn’t supremely suck.

Remember back when Apple TV+ was dubbed “expensive NBC” far in advance of its launch, in part because of rumoured executive meddling that attempted to scrub its series of profanity, gratuitous sex, and other topic matter Apple seemed offensive? And remember how that panned out for Apple at its service’s launch — which is to say, not especially well? Evidently Quibi has its own, eerily familiar meddling management problem.

In a sweeping report on Quibi’s operations and content development, Business Insider dug into the production processes of some of Quibi’s content — including its so-called Daily Essentials. They were reportedly produced under already strained deadlines that were made more difficult by Quibi content executives nitpicking these series to death, according to sources who spoke to Business Insider. One development executive who worked with Quibi told the site that “from the start of an idea, to the title of the show, to the set design, colour scheme, pixels in the graphics, I don’t know that there was a detail that Quibi isn’t involved in.”

That may seem like the norm for content development — except Business Insider reported that this is not necessarily the case. Citing its sources, Business Insider reported the notes “went beyond what execs at other mobile-first platforms like Snapchat Discover and Facebook Watch, or at Netflix, typically give. Some notes were more extensive than what TV networks provide.” (Quibi did not immediately return a request for comment.)

So here is a situation in which a company with big ties to Silicon Valley — seemingly attempting to launch a high-stakes streaming product that, in some form or another, arguably already existed — meddled in the creative process only to turn around and spit on the resulting product. Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg told the New York Times during a May interview about the service’s rocky launch that its “Daily Essentials are not that essential.” Given that this category made up something close to a third of the content titles on the service, just…good lord.

Similarly, tech bros interfering in the production side of a product was rumoured to be at the core of Apple’s mediocre content problem (though the company at least appears to be working on that). More recently, we saw HBO’s streaming service was reduced to a Netflix-wannabe after AT&T overlords stepped in and pushed out the guy who was key to making HBO great.

All of this is to say, when top-level executives start messing with the creative vision for a product, you end up with a deluded, sped-out, and uninteresting product that nobody needs — or even wants, for that matter.

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