Quibi, the video app made specifically for and only available on smartphones, launched Monday April 6, 2020. The founders, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, have spent the last two years finding investors to help kick in $1.8 billion as well as producers and stars for the short content now available on the platform. Many high-profile names, like Jennifer Lopez, Bill Murray, LeBron James, Chrissy Teigen and Steven Spielberg are attached to the streaming service.
The platform features content, “quick bites”, no longer than 10 minutes. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Katzenberg and Whitman marketed the streaming platform as an “on-the-go diversion” for those on quick lunch breaks, commuting on the subway or in a rideshare or standing in line for coffee or food. In large, most of us aren’t exactly “on the go” during the pandemic; we’re stuck at home.
“This is either going to be a massive home run or a massive swing and miss,” said Michael Goodman, a media analyst at Strategy Analytics.
However, the creators behind Quibi aren’t afraid being confined to the home will deter anyone from watching content on their phone with the ability to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the like to their televisions.
“Think about how often you use your phone when you’re homebound,” said co-founder Meg Whitman. “People who are home with their children would really like a 10-minute break.”
“Given the quality and quantity and convenience of Quibi, we think it comes at a time when people are looking for relief, looking for distraction and looking to escape,” Jeffrey Katzenberg said. “Those are all the things we are trying to deliver to them.”
Additionally, for those not looking for the burden of another monthly payment, especially if they have lost their jobs, Quibi is available for free for the first three months.
In a week since its launch, Quibi saw 1.7 million downloads, according to Meg Whitman.
“It turns out people have in-between moments at home,” Whitman said. “We don’t actually think it hurt us.”
In comparison to Disney+, who claimed to have over 10 million subscribers the day after its launch, Quibi’s 1.7 million subscribers seems small. However, the Quibi brand is new and relies on advertising, word of mouth and celebrity endorsements. Whitman later said opening Quibi to be available to stream on smart televisions is no longer off the table, given the COVID-19 crisis.
While Katzenberg and Whitman developed Quibi for our previous, fast-paced lives. With our current stay-at-home orders, both creators are not deterred and continue to believe their product will prevail as initially planned amid the current crisis.