What's Trending on Streaming? The Queue App Will Tell You.

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

What's Trending on Streaming? The Queue App Will Tell You.

For a long time, Garrett Rothstein couldn’t shake the idea that people waste so much time figuring out what show or movie is available on which platform.

Even as he was working at Quibi, the splashy-but-ill-fated mobile streaming app, the thought gnawed at him. But the 32-year-old kept that thought—and the underlying ambition to create a service that simplifies the binge-watch process—at bay, content to stay focused on his day job in ad sales at Quibi.

But then, in October 2020, Quibi suddenly went bust, and Rothstein found himself with all the time in the world.

“Having that unemployment kind of forced upon me, I don't like using the word ‘fate’ but it felt like it was presented in front of me,” he said. “It was an opportunity that I should take advantage of.”

Garrett Rothstein, co-founder of Queue.

Garrett Rothstein, co-founder of Queue.

Now, a year later, that opportunity is finally seeing the light of day. Last week, Rothstein and Spencer Rascoff (who also co-founded dot.LA) debuted Queue, the new social watch list app that wants to cut down on time wasted searching for a show to binge.

The Los Angeles-based startup allows users to look up any movie or show, see where it’s streaming, and start watching.

“The streaming world has become so fragmented, with so many different streaming services constantly popping up,” Rothstein said. “And so in Queue, we want to replace that messy Notes app in your phone that most people tend to keep track of what it is that they want to watch.”

According to Leichtman Research Group, Inc, 78% of the U.S. population uses one or more of the top streaming services - Netflix, AmazonPrime, and Hulu. Even though on Netflix alone, there are 5,800 content titles, 39% of people still have a difficult time trying to decide what to watch next.

Rothstein spent most of his professional career working in consumer startups. He had some notable stints at Snap and Bird before going to work in ad sales at Quibi, a streaming service that shut down in October 2020, just six months after launching.

While there are other platforms like Letterboxd and Cinetrak trying to solve the “what to watch” problem, Queue is leaning on real recommendations from real friends. “We believe that the people that know you the best are given the right to provide the best recommendation and those are your real friends from real life, and that's who we want to connect you with,” Rothstein said.

Queue has a variety of features that increase user engagement in the app. Aside from the watch list, Queue has also gamified the experience by including badges where users can unlock them by watching different genres. Like other platforms, Queue has a social feed that shows a reverse chronological list of what your friends are watching and queuing.

In the user’s queue, the tab is divided into three categories: “all titles,” “out now,” and “coming soon.”

Each user also has an IQ score visible on their profile which continues to grow the more shows and movies you watch. Similar to Netflix, Queue's discover page is updated daily and shows each user the top 10 trending titles of all the major platforms including what’s in theaters.

With over 40 streaming services, on demand channels, and movie theater availability on the app, content at the user’s disposal. On average, people take up to 9.4 minutes to decide what to watch next according to Nielsen, an information and technology services provider.

“Instead of having the consumer bounce around from Netflix then to Hulu then Prime to see what's hot on each of those platforms,” Rothstein said. “You can see everything in one very clean view on Queue.”

Once you mark things as watched, Queue will automatically populate your social feed and allow the user to see what their friends and family are watching.

“We know that most people turn to their friends when they're looking for recommendations on what it is that they want to watch next,” Rothstein said.

Even though the app is free, Queue collects affiliate marketing fees. If users subscribe to streaming platforms due to titles they have seen on the app, Queue will also receive an affiliate commission from that purchase.

While monetization is key to a successful company, Rothstein said, “Right now we're really heads down on growing our user base, working on retention and making sure we're shipping a world class product.”

Queue is only available for iPhone users, but will be available in the Google Play store in 2022. Currently, the app only displays U.S. titles as the startup is focused on the U.S. market, but Rothstein said they are looking at having International availability in the future.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Garrett Rothstein's first name.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.