When Quibi decided to stay on course with its planned launch last Monday, many had one question in mind: Would consumers embrace—and did they need—yet another streaming platform?
The timing was tricky. Yes, we are all in a coronavirus lockdown and we have more time on our hands to binge content, but this is also a time when many have lost their jobs and have tightened their belts.
Quibi, led by founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, took this into consideration and made the content available for a 90-day free trial. This proved to be a smart move, as 1.7 million consumers downloaded the app in the first week. After the free trial, plans will range from $4.99 with ads up to $7.99 for the ad-free option.
Now, before you compare this number to juggernauts such as Netflix and Disney+, you have to take into consideration how different this platform is. Looking only at numbers, this may look dismal. Disney+ was installed 12.5 million times within its first week (recently topping 50 million subscribers) and the app was mostly available in the U.S. Quibi, on the other hand, had an international launch.
However, Quibi’s strategy is completely different than competing streamers. Not that life is fair but it wouldn’t be to compare it to the already established giants, many of which have launched, or will (NBC’s Peacock), with nostalgic favorites on their side (think Friends and The Office, for example).
Quibi’s name is short for “quick bites” and what sets it apart from the competition is twofold: all its content is 10 minutes or less and is optimized for mobile viewing. Its technology allows viewers to move seamlessly between full-screen portrait and landscape.
It’s clear that Quibi is extremely confident in the content it is offering. Giving it away for free initially was the best way to get those downloads and hook viewers. Its shows and movies (in chapters) are completely original and brand new.
In addition, all content comes from a long list of the top names in entertainment, including stars Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, LeBron James, Lena Waithe and Will Smith and A-list directors Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi and Catherine Hardwicke.
According to a recent survey by TV Time, fans are most excited about Survive starring Sophie Turner, Most Dangerous Game starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz, The Fugitive with Kiefer Sutherland, 50 Stages of Fright with Rachel Brosnahan, and Flipped with Will Forte.
The A-list talent involved piqued the interest of millennials, with 28% saying the long list of names could entice them to subscribe. Overall, interest in Quibi varied by age with those in Generation Z (22 and under), Millennials (23-38) and Generation X (39-54) each finding different aspects of the new streamer attractive.
For example, Millennials and Gen Z, who are much higher users of mobile and online video, are measurably more curious about the service than Gen X. With respect to the mobile viewing experience, Gen Z (22%) was 175% more likely to indicate it was an important factor than Gen X (8%).
While Quibi has only made a little over $3,000 through in-app purchase revenue, it is making money from advertisements. Roughly 87% of the installs are from the U.S. with Canada following at 6% and downloads are split evenly between iOS and Android users.
Originally, the short-form content was thought to be perfect for those with long commute times but clearly, that isn’t the case for most right now. It is perfect, however, for those extremely long lines to enter and check out of the grocery store.
Another question remained: Do we need a mobile streaming platform while stuck at home with access to platforms available on our televisions and laptops? Whitman says absolutely.
“It turns out people have in-between moments at home,” Whitman said. “We don’t actually think it hurt us.” She also said the first week’s downloads surpassed expectations. In an early sign of engagement, Whitman said 80% of people who have started a show watch it through the first episode.
And, with so many of us stuck at home, Whitman said Quibi would accelerate its plans to enable the app to cast to TVs. While this feature wasn’t originally planned to be a part of the launch, she says it was always in the company’s long-term vision.
Katzenberg confirmed the success of the platform adding video viewing on smartphones in March was up 60% from a year ago.