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Quibi is Shutting Down

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Meg Whitman is without doubt one of the founders of Quibi. (Image via Robyn Beck / AFP)
Meg Whitman is without doubt one of the founders of Quibi. (Image via Robyn Beck / AFP)

You might have heard about Quibi, a short form mobile-focused streaming service, at some point this year, but you won’t be hearing from it anymore. Quibi recently announced it is closing house after only six months of operation, making it one of the shortest-lived streaming services to date. The announcement came from a Medium post.

What We Know:

  • The post by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman said, “We feel that we’ve exhausted all our options. As a result, we have reluctantly come to the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace.”
  • Several factors could have gone into the platforms of premature death, but one stands out the most. The new streaming service was mobile-only, and it was already at a disadvantage compared to other services. During a pandemic such as this, everyone at home seemed to choose other services as Quibi didn’t offer enough to tempt subscribers. With many free platforms such as Youtube and Tik-Tok, the new service fell flat in an already saturated market.
  • Quibi has stated that much of the failure to launch off the ground was with itself and the idea “wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing”. The company said they will notify what subscribers they did have of the final time they can access the service.
  • Quibi marketed a seemingly resilient and well cast original programing before and after the shutdown. In an effort to save that work, Katzenberg reached out to Apple, WarnerMedia, and Facebook to acquire them, but to no avail. When that plan failed, Katzenberg attempted to get Facebook and NBCUniversal to at least pick up its content, again with no success.
  • The streaming service officially launched on April 6th earlier this year with two plans to choose from: $4.99 a month (ads) or $7.99 a month (ad-free). The mobile-only gimmick was an attempt to separate itself from its competitors. They even threw in an interesting system where all their content was produced to accommodate portrait and landscape formats for a unique viewing experience. Aside from a free trial, there was no free option and TV apps weren’t released until this week for platforms such as Apple, Android, and Fire TV.
  • It was reported that both Katzenberg and Whitman raised a whopping $1.75 billion in order to create Quibi, but having money doesn’t always equal success. Despite promising content, which even landed them two Emmy wins, the subscriber base which helps a streaming service run, left as fast as it came.

Sensor Tower, an app tracking firm, reported that Quibi allegedly lost about 90 percent of its subscribers after the three-month free trial promotion in July. After the trial ended, the platform’s users dropped from 900,000 to only 72,000 that stuck around and became paid members. Quibi has argued those figures are incorrect but have yet to release actual statistics.

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Javier Garay is a digital intern with Unmutedco. He graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor of Science (B.S) in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. He is a contributor and editor for Black News Alerts (BNA), a BNA and BossFM social media contributor, and is the lead of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

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Mercedes-Benz Says it will Go All-Electric in 2030, but with a Major Caveat

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Mercedes-Benz plans on selling all-electric cars by 2030, joining rival companies General Motors, Stellantis, and Renault.

What We Know:

  • Daimler, the makers of Mercedes-Benz, stated they would invest over $47 billion between 2022-2030 to create battery-electric cars…having only all-electric cars by 2030. They will build about eight battery plants and have the electric model of every car they make. There will be three battery plants in Europe, four in Asia, and one in the US.
  • The luxury car makers will produce eight electric vehicle models by 2022. They will be producing them on three continents in various locations. Chief Executive Ola Källenius said that the company’s “spending on traditional combustion-engine technology would be close to zero by 2025.” He truly sees the company being all-electric by the end of the decade and competitive with Tesla. Källenius believes that Mercedes-Benz’s initiative will allow them to get 600 miles to a charge, beating Tesla’s longest-running car by 50%.
  • As a part of the Paris Agreement, countries have made a pact to make changes to their carbon emission levels. The US and European Union both decided to target their international import ties. The EU declared that they would “effectively ban new cars with internal combustion engines in 2035,” while Britain and Norway both set expiration dates for any car that runs on fossil fuels.
  • The only caveat to Mercedes-Benz’s plan is that they will produce and sell their electric cars “where market conditions allow.” The automobile company understands that some countries may not have car charging capabilities by 2030, and thus they wouldn’t need an electric car. Because of this possibility, Mercedes-Benz will still make “combustion-engine vehicles” as long as demand is high and needed.

Daimler executives have yet to release the location for the US battery plant, but many suspect it will be near the company’s manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa, AL. The company has yet to release any information regarding ending sales and production of their fossil fuel cars.

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Blue Origin’s Bezos Reaches Space on 1st Passenger Flight

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Billionaire Jeff Bezos successfully made it to space in his first-ever launch of New Shepard‘s rocket ship.

What We Know:

  • Bezos, along with his brother Mark, 82-year-old space race pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen launched into space on Tuesday. Daeman is considered the first paying customer, as his wealthy father purchased his ticket. The four-person crew took a rocket ship that was owned by Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin. The rocket had a smooth takeoff, made it to about 60 miles above Earth, experienced 3 to 4-minutes of weightlessness, and safely landed back on Earth. The flight lasted a little over 10 minutes.
  • Blue Origin is meant to be used for “space tourism” and is a part of the “billionaire space race”  that is happening between various billionaires. Bezos and other billionaires plan on capitalizing on the space market and make it like a “Disney park ride” for the rich.
  • Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of Virgin Galactic, was the first billionaire to launch into space, as his crew took flight nine days prior to Bezos’. Branson’s launch has been called into question since he didn’t reach the Kármán line- the international boundary of space. Many believe he did not reach space, as his spacecraft only reached a little over 50 miles above Earth and the Kármán line is 60. According to CNN, America states that “demarcation altitude” is above 50, and therefore Branson is the “first billionaire” in space.
  • Bezos believes the future is space and his environmental vision revolves around it. He stated that “we need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry and move it into space, and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is.” The Amazon founder and former owner believe that his sub-orbital tourism mission will allow the country to achieve a world where people can eat, sleep, and work in space in order to clean Earth.
  • Some have criticized Bezos launched, as well as his comments made post-launch. In his post-interview, Bezos thanked Amazon employees and consumers for funding the $5.5 billion space launch. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted that Bezos needs to thank American workers who “actually paid taxes” and brought up the country’s need for a “wealth tax,” as Amazon pays nothing in taxes. Stars and Stripes journalist David Choi retweeted the post-interview video and stated his response to the billionaire.

Bezos has already sold close to $100 million worth of tickets for future Blue Origin launches, despite not releasing the prices for seats yet. Those interested in taking a trip to space are asked to email the company as demand is high. There will be at least two more human flights conducted by Blue Origin before the end of the year.

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Black Widow’s Debut on Disney+ Earned $60 Million

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Black Widow became the third highest-grossing Marvel origin story during its opening weekend, following Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

What We Know:

  • Deadline reported that the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film garnered $60 million in sales on Disney+ in two years. Alongside this, Black Widow also earned $80 million domestically and $78 million internationally. Overall, the film produced $218.8  million worldwide.
  • Disney+ released the long-awaited Marvel film on the same day it premiered in theatres through its Premiere Access option. Customers could access the title by paying $30; unlike other streaming devices, like HBO Max, which place new films on their service for a limited time, Disney+ users can access the movie whenever they’d like. Since Marvel could not release any movies in 2020 due to the pandemic, fans did not hesitate to pay the fee.
  • Black Widow enthusiasts waited for the film for seventeen years. Lionsgate began developing the film in 2004 but did not move forward with the project, as Marvel regained the character’s film rights in 2006. Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) then entered the MCU in 2010’s Iron Man 2, and actress Scarlett Johansson began talks of a solo film with Marvel. Despite this, Marvel only included her as a supporting character in other movies, most notably the Avengers series. It was not until 2017 that Marvel made her origin story a priority.
  • Marvel originally planned to release the film in May 2020. However, they pushed the date to November 2020, then to May 2021, and once again to July 2021. Although Marvel delayed the creation and issuing of Black Widow, it did not disappoint viewers. Audiences and critics alike praised the film for its strong performance and themes.
  • Disney+ began streaming movies the same day they appeared in theatres in 2020; they initiated the Premiere Access option by delivering the live-action remake of Mulan to users. The service continued Premiere Access by releasing Raya and the Last Dragon and Cruella. Premiere Access gives movie lovers the chance to watch popular films without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Marvel will also take out three new additions to the MCU later this year. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home are all set to come out at the end of 2021. Disney+ has not announced if they will provide the films through Premiere Access yet.

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