- Quibi, the mobile video streaming service started by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, will launch on April 6 and carry more than 175 original shows with 8,500 episodes during its first year, according to a CNBC report. Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, the former head of Hewlett-Packard and eBay who's now CEO of Quibi, yesterday introduced the service in a keynote speech at CES, the annual consumer electronics exhibition.
- Quibi, which stands for "quick bites," plans to differentiate its service with shows whose episodes run less than 10 minutes each, making them more suitable for mobile viewing. The company introduced its flexible "Turnstyle" format that can be viewed on vertical and horizontal screens with tech that stitches together vertical and horizontal video of the same scenes, per an Axios report. Quibi also updated its website to showcase its programming and to collect email addresses from people who show interest in the service. Quibi has said it will charge $5 a month with ads or $8 for a commercial-free version.
- T-Mobile subscribers will receive Quibi bundled with their cellular plans, T-Mobile's incoming CEO Mike Sievert said during the keynote presentation without providing details about those plans. Google is working with Quibi to optimize viewing on its line of Pixel smartphones, and providing streaming technology from its cloud-computing service, said Tariq Shaukat, Google Cloud's president of industry products and solutions, in the presentation.
Quibi's price points may be inexpensive enough for mobile consumers to sign up for the ad-supported service, opening a new media channel for mobile marketers that seek to reach viewers of video on their smartphones. While it's not clear whether T-Mobile will carry the ad-free or ad-supported version of Quibi, bundling the service with mobile plans likely will help to boost viewership among people who don't want to shell out for another streaming service. T-Mobile has more than 83 million subscribers, and will gain another 55 million if its proposed merger with Sprint clears the remaining legal hurdles, clearing the way for Quibi to reach a massive audience. T-Mobile also bundles Netflix, which is ad-free, in its family subscription plans.
The platform's "Turnstyle" format is a key innovation in optimizing the service for smartphone screens, unlike other streaming platforms like Netflix that are more geared for viewing on connected TVs. Netflix has said that 70% of its global streaming is on TV, while only 10% happens on smartphones. However, another study indicated that Generation Z is more likely to watch Netflix on a smartphone. Forty percent of the demographic group said a mobile device was their primary viewing platform for Netflix, compared with 22% of millennials, per a study by entertainment company Whistle. Its survey also found that Gen Z mostly relies on smartphones to watch video on YouTube and Facebook. The finding indicates that Gen Z is hungry for video content on mobile platforms, but the field is crowded for a startup like Quibi.
Quibi's biggest competitor among streaming platforms may be Disney+, the service started in November by Katzenberg's former employer. Disney+, which costs $7 a month or $70 a year for ad-free viewing, was downloaded more than 22 million times to mobile devices in its first month, per researcher Apptopia. Disney+ averaged 9.5 million daily active users (DAUs) of its mobile app during that time, and saw 5.8% longer average session times than Netflix, and 7.8% longer than Amazon Prime Video, per Apptopia, whose research doesn't include connected TVs or indicate how many people paid for subscriptions. Verizon offered one year of free Disney+ service to unlimited wireless customers and new FiOS and 5G home broadband subscribers.
Quibi has generated interest from advertisers seeking a brand-safe alternative to YouTube, TikTok and other social networks whose dependence on user-generated content makes them vulnerable to abuse. Quibi in October said it sold out its first-year ad inventory for $150 million. The company added cable network Discovery, General Mills, Taco Bell and T-Mobile to its previously announced lineup of AB InBev, Google, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Progressive and Walmart.