T-Mobile is offering a year of free access to Quibi, the mobile-video service started by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg that officially launches on April 6. The mobile carrier is bundling Quibi for customers with two or more voice lines at standard rates on its Magenta and ONE plans, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
T-Mobile also is offering free Quibi in discounted plans for first responders, military service members, Magenta Plus subscribers over age 55 and to small businesses with as many as 12 lines. The service normally costs $4.99 a month with ads or $7.99 for an ad-free version.
After a year, T-Mobile users can choose to continue their free service with Quibi or Netflix. T-Mobile customers can also use their T-Mobile Tuesdays loyalty app to get early access to three bonus episodes of the series "Thanks a Million" starring singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, the announcement said. T-Mobile last year said it would offer Quibi bundled with cellular plans, but didn't provide details.
T-Mobile, which this week completed its $26 billion merger with Sprint after a two-year clash with federal and state authorities, is offering free Quibi service to boost its value proposition for mobile customers. The move comes as rivals like AT&T and Verizon tout free content offerings from their respective media companies.
Access to video content has become a major selling point among wireless carriers, a trend that likely will grow as they expand the coverage of their 5G networks nationwide in the next few years. The next-generation service is expected to speed up download times for data-intensive content like video, helping to drive consumption among younger consumers who rely on their smartphones for news and entertainment throughout the day.
For Quibi, the distribution deal with T-Mobile gives the startup the potential reach millions of smartphone users at launch. While it's unclear how many T-Mobile subscribers qualify for the free service, the company's combination with Sprint created a mobile network with 100 million customers.
Quibi, which stands for "quick bites," is geared for mobile viewing with episodes that take only 10 to 15 minutes to watch. Its app also has a "Turnstyle" video format that makes viewing easier when people hold their smartphones vertically or horizontally. Those qualities may help Quibi to distinguish its platform from rivals, including streaming apps and social networks that have expanded their video programming and are seeing a surge in usage among consumers sheltered inside during the coronavirus pandemic.
It's critical for Quibi to expand its reach as quickly as possible to generate subscription revenue and sell advertising inserts. Quibi's advertisers during its first year include AB InBev, Google, Discovery, General Mills, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Progressive, Taco Bell, T-Mobile and Walmart. Quibi aims to provide a brand-safe alternative to YouTube, TikTok and other social networks whose dependence on user-generated content makes them vulnerable to abuse.