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What is Quibi? (Update: Service to shut down Dec. 1)
Update 2: October 23, 2020 – Quibi has revealed that the service will shut down “on or about December 1”. There’s no word on what will happen to the service’s content after that date.
Until 2020, the word “Quibi” was used mostly by entertainment business media outlets. Now the streaming service has launched. So what is Quibi? Simply put, it’s a streaming service with all original content that hopes to make itself stand out from Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and others in a few interesting ways.
Read: Best streaming services
The big question: Will this service stand out from the many, many established streaming services? Let’s take a look at everything we know so far about Quibi. You can download the mobile apps and sign up for the service at the links below:
So, what is Quibi?
Quibi is a streaming service that originally was supposed to appeal to the growing media audience that just watches TV shows on their smartphones and tablets. It offers a mix of original scripted and non-scripted series, plus daily shows as well. Since its launch, it added native smart TV apps for many platforms.
What the heck does “Quibi” mean, anyway?
The name of the service is supposed to be a mashup of “Quick Bites”, which may give you a bit of a clue for what the company is offering to its customers.
Who founded the service?
The company was launched by two well-known executives; one comes from the entertainment industry while the other has a history in running tech companies. The founder and Chairman of Quibi is Jeffrey Katzenberg, who helped to turn around Disney’s animation division in the 1980s and 1990s. He later co-founded Dreamworks and headed up its Dreamworks Animation division. The CEO of Quibi is Meg Whitman. Before her current job, she was the CEO of eBay and later became the CEO of HP.
Under their leadership, the Wall Street Journal says that Quibi has already raised a total of $1.75 billion from outside investors before the official launch.
What platforms support Quibi?
The service was originally designed to be a mobile-only experience. It first, it was available only for iOS and Android-based smartphones and tablets. However, the service later updated the iOS version of the app to allow users to cast videos to Airplay-supported TVs and for Chromecast dongles and supported TV for its iOS and Android apps.
More recently, the service added native apps for the Apple TV platform, along with Android TV and Amazon Fire TV sticks, set-top boxes, and smart TVs.
What does the mobile-only experience mean for users?
The mobile-only experience for Quibi utilizes two major features that make the service different than the others. One is that the “series” that will be streamed will have episodes of 10 minutes or less. That means original Quibi scripted and unscripted series will have a “season” that overall will be the length of a standard feature film.
The other major feature of the service is that the streaming shows can be viewed in both portrait and landscape modes on smartphones and tablets. In fact, you can switch between the two viewing modes on the fly while you watch a Quibi show. The creators of those series have re-edited their video so they work in portrait mode along with the more popular landscape mode.
If you watch Quibi on the new smart TV apps, you can only watch series in their landscape mode.
When and where will Quibi launch?
On April 6, Quibi launched, and while it is officially said to focus on the US and Canada, it is available in many other countries, including Europe and the UK, India, Asia, and Australia. We don’t have word on availability for every country but so far haven’t found that the app is unavailable.
What does the service cost?
Quibi has two subscription tiers. The first, which will show ads before the start of each video, costs $4.99 a month. You can do away with ads with the more expensive tier, which will cost $7.99 a month.
In Europe, the pricing is only for an ad-free tier at €8,99 per month, once the 90-day trial has ended. In Australia and New Zealand, the company has just launched a free version of the service, with ads, and the version without ads has seen its price lowered from $12.99 to $6.99 AUD in Australia.
Can I get the service for free?
Yes, you can. Quibi is currently offering a way to get 14 days of the service in a free trial in the US.
Also, the company has partnered with T-Mobile to offer free service with a T-Mobile plan. For more information, take a look at our “Quibi for free” article.
What can I watch on Quibi?
The service launched with a total of 50 scripted, unscripted, and daily series. They included shows like a new version of the short story Most Dangerous Game with Liam Hemsworth, a comedy about flipping houses and Mexican drug cartels with Will Forte, and a revival of the classic MTV series Punk’d. You can also watch a number of daily news series from sources like the BBC, NBC News, ESPN, and more.
In the weeks and months to come, you can expect to see even more shows on the service. That includes series created by major directors like Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro. You can take a look at the shows that are currently available, along with all the upcoming series, at our dedicated Quibi shows page.
Other Quibi features
Quibi shows can be downloaded by subscribers on mobile devices for watching while their smartphone or tablet is offline. The service streams at up to 1080p resolution, but you can reduce the stream to standard resolution if you are under a limited data plan. Unfortunately, the service only supports one concurrent stream at a time on one account.
Can this service survive the streaming wars?
Right now, Quibi isn’t doing as well as even its own founders expected. The Wall Street Journal reports that at the end of May, its app had only about 1.5 million active users from its launch in April to the end of May. According to The Guardian, Quibi itself predicts that it will have only two million paid users by the end of 2020, which is well off its previous prediction of 7.4 million subscribers.
The service did get some good news in late July. Some of its shows got nominated for Emmy awards for 2020. The service got 10 total nominations, but all were in the less prestigious short-form categories. The service ended up winning two Emmys. Actors Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones won for lead actor and lead supporting actor in the short form category for the drama #FreeRayshawn. However, the Wall Street Journal later reported that the company might be exploring a possible sale.
The fact that Quibi finally decided to add native smart TV apps could be a big help. It will definitely expand the number of users who want to watch the service’s shows on a screen that’s bigger than a smartphone or laptop, without the need to mirror their smartphone screen.
As always, it always comes to how good the content will be on Quibi, and if that programming will bring in paying audiences. Some of the shows do sound very promising, but will it be worth $4.99 a month? That remains to be seen.