Wednesday, February 5, 2020

What is Quibi?

The new mobile-centric short-form streamer Quibi was making a lot of noise at CES. Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman delivered a keynote presentation, offering the following information about Quibi:

• The service rolls out April 6. It costs $5 per month, but T-Mobile users will get it for free.

• There’ll be nearly 200 “micro-shows” during the first year, and a bunch of famous faces and brands have signed on to make programming for the service.

• The company’s big piece of tech pizzaz is the ability for users to seamlessly switch between portrait and landscape mode when watching a show. Quibi officially announced said tech will be called “Turnstyle.”

Quibi’s media-communications game is on point: Katzenberg and Whitman have made themselves available to dozens of media outlets, patiently and passionately explaining the details of the service and why they think people who don’t use T-Mobile will be willing to pay for it.

It’s hard to argue mobile users don’t already have a ton of free, high-quality programming to stream on their devices, particularly if you include podcasts and music streaming. Asking folks to spend $60 per year — and still have to watch ads! — seems like a stretch.

The partnership with T-Mobile ensures Quibi will have millions of subscribers at launch, even if they’re not paying for it. And given how just five years ago, it wasn’t even clear if streaming video networks were really going to be immediately successful, it would be foolish to render any verdict on Quibi’s fate just yet.

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