Thursday, June 11, 2020

Free Episodes. Free Shows. Free Trials. So, What is Quibi Actually?

Quibi, a mobile-only subscription video service that launched April 6 in the US and Canada, is yet another streaming service launching in a sea of new streaming services. But this one, at least, is a little different. An ambitious, risky, big-budget bet on mobile video, Quibi is staking $1.75 billion to make ultraexpensive, star-studded, short-form videos designed to be watched on a phone.

To lure people in, Quibi offered a 90-day free trial. That offer was set to expire Thursday, but as of early Friday, it’s still available for new subscribers signing up in the app and it’s still advertised on Quibi’s website. Once Quibi’s 90-day free trial offer ends, the free trial period for new members will narrow to two weeks.

To drum up people’s interest in signing up while they still qualify for the 90-day trial, Quibi posted the first episodes of three of its series — Most Dangerous GameThe Stranger and Dummy — free to watch on YouTube.

By putting full episodes outside its app for the first time, Quibi is aiming to get more people interested in the service with the extended free period. While it may seem like a money-losing strategy, streaming services like Netflix and Spotify uniformly report that the longer a person uses the service, the less likely they are to quit it. So far, Quibi reportedly has more than 1 million registered users out of 3.1 million app downloads.

The full episodes on YouTube also give viewers the first chance to watch Quibi’s big-budget programming on TVs for the first time. YouTube has apps for television streaming across a wide variety of devices and smart TVs.

People can watch Quibi at home, sure, but Quibi’s bet on exclusively mobile, short-form video was based on the premise that people would gobble up these “quick bite” episodes while on the go. But coronavirus has locked millions of people inside their homes, stifling how often people are out and about.

Quibi leaders say they believe people still need short breaks for entertainment. Quibi will start adding support to cast from mobile phones to TVs in May. 

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