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.
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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