Quibi hopes ‘quick bite’ TV for smartphones wins viewers

Quibi CEO Meg Whitman speaks about the short-form video streaming service for mobile Quibi. (AFP)

New streaming service Quibi on Wednesday provided a glimpse into its bid to win over smartphone users, vowing to shake up the industry with original programs lasting less than 10 minutes.

Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said it was designed for young lifestyles, offering episodes to be viewed while in a queue or on a break at work.

“We aim to give you big stories in quick bites,” Katzenberg said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

He billed Quibi – which launches in April – as a television transformation, taking advantage of smartphone features such as location, time of day, and pivoting from landscape to portrait screens.

Katzenberg said all Quibi content – from comedies to documentaries, sports, and news - was original and being produced “by the biggest names in Hollywood.”

Created by Katzenberg, a longtime Disney executive and co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, the app drew inspiration from Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” which has more than 100 chapters averaging just five pages each.

The idea behind the service that has the entertainment world abuzz is to attract younger viewers who are always on the move.

Katzenberg said the platform will treat video storytelling like books, with longer stories broken into short chapters.

“We are not shrinking TV onto phones,” said Quibi chief executive Meg Whitman, a former chief of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
“We are creating the world’s first platform for mobile video in quick bites.”

Major studios have pledged $1 billion in funding for the service, which has already attracted Hollywood names such as Steven Spielberg, Guillermo Del Toro, and Jennifer Lopez.

Quibi joins Disney+, HBO Max (AT&T), Peacock (Comcast) and Apple TV+ among the players in a streaming war as Americans increasingly become “cord-cutters” - giving up expensive, often inflexible cable packages for a more a la carte online experience.

Rivals also include titans Netflix and Amazon Prime, which spend billions of dollars annually on original shows.

Google-owned YouTube also battles for the attention of video-seeking smartphone users.

Quibi boasts Google as a partner, saying it relies on the internet giant’s cloud computing power, and Google’s Pixel phones are being tuned to stream its shows.

Quibi launches on April 6 and will charge $5 monthly for subscriptions that will include ads and $8 monthly for an ad-free version.

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Last Update: 04:42 KSA 07:42 - GMT 04:42
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