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Mobile-only streaming platform Quibi launches in lockdown

After sinking $1.8 billion into star power and content production, Quibi execs have decided to launch the mobile-centric service in lockdown.

Businesses all across the globe are trying to keep their heads above water in this time of global crisis, but a select few are flourishing under the circumstances. With a large sum of the world forced to stay inside and entertain ourselves for an indefinite period of time, we’re looking for all the digital filler we can get. Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime have even had to temporarily reduce their default resolutions to account for the unprecedented inflow of subscribers.

The next app looking to target this captive and hyper-engaged audience is Quibi, a mobile-centric streaming service that specialises in short form content. It may sound a little strange as a blanket policy, but as we understand it no Quibi content will exceed a run time of 10-minutes.

You’d be forgiven for instantly thinking: ‘Well Quibi is just another place for YouTube or TikTok-esque video bites then’. You’d be wrong. The platform is planning to host everything from original movies (segmented into short chapters), TV shows, quick hit news stories, documentaries, and unscripted reality shows. If you keep up with Thred, you’ll recall we recently covered a story on popular E-sports outfit Team FaZe and their Quibi hosted reality TV hunt for a new member. 

To this point veteran executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have siphoned over $1.8 billion from keen investors and have managed to enlist A-list stars like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Idris Elba, Chance the Rapper, Bill Murray, Sophie Turner, and even Steven Spielberg for Quibi shows to maximise the platform’s chances of success in the wild. But despite this impressive line-up, it has to be said: launching a billion-dollar venture during a pandemic is a huge risk. 

What has Quibi got going for it then? Well, before Covid-19 dug its clutches into the Earth, Whitman pitched Quibi as the ultimate on-the-go diversion for commuters. Obviously, the landscape has changed drastically since then, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

CES 2020: Meg Whitman debuts Quibi streaming service

Whitman and Katzenberg are now peddling the platform as a ‘distraction to bring ‘relief to those looking to escape’. And under this new guise Quibi could really thrive. 

Think for a minute, just how often do you and your family use your phones on lockdown at the moment? Now consider that Quibi ticks all the boxes for the most sought-after audience ever, Gen Z. Renowned as digital natives, Gen Z spend upwards of five hours a day on their phones, have a significantly shorter attention span than that of millennials (which bodes well for Quibi’s formula), and most notably have a potential spending power of $143 billion. If you’re going to market a product to anyone, make no mistake about it Gen Z are the golden ticket.  

After ‘interactive TV’s’ flash in the pan in 2019 (with Netflix’s BandersnatchYou vs. Wild, and YouTube’s interactive arm) Quibi is trying to bring the concept back in a meaningful way for 2020. Every product on Quibi will be optimised to show off their unique feature: ‘Turnstyle’, which will allow the user to switch between portrait and landscape mode with on-screen events corresponding seamlessly to fill the space. 

Quibi's not even here yet and it's already being sued

Currently, we’re a little dubious as to whether Quibi can usher in the ‘third generation of film narrative, but Turnstyle is definitely a neat feature and talk of future programming utilising our phone clocks, GPS, and ubiquitous smartphone sensors is definitely intriguing. 

There’s no doubting Quibi has a lot going for it at the moment, but whether it will go on to become synonymous with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime remains to be seen. With this unexpected launch we’ll find out soon enough though.  

If you want to try the app for yourself, head here and sign up to the 90-day trial. It’s free!