Streaming app Quibi launches against Netflix
The mobile-first streaming service Quibi launched in the US on Monday, despite concerns the coronavirus outbreak might impact its viewership.
The company has raised $1.8bn (£1.47bn) for the project intended to rival Netflix and YouTube. Quibi’s shows are 10 minutes or shorter and movies are broken into segments.
It has lined up a host of Hollywood and showbiz stars including Idris Elba, Sophie Turner, Steven Spielberg, Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Lopez.
Viewers are meant to watch the shows on their mobile phones, and a feature called Turnstile allows the video to stay full screen in both portrait or landscape.
Some shows even encourage viewers to turn the device mid-show to reveal a different angle to the scene.
On social media, Quibi’s launch was met with mixed reviews. Some of its highly promoted shows – like Punk’d featuring Chance the Rapper and Survive starring Sophie Turner – received praise.
But watching alone on your smartphone – a fundamental feature of the app – was criticised. Users complained they couldn’t share what they were watching with housemates or partners.
The service costs $4.99 a month with adverts and $7.99 for ad-free viewing, although Quibi is giving away a 90-day free trial in the US. The company had said it planned to roll out its services to other countries gradually, but on Monday the ad-free version app appeared to be available in the UK.
Quibi’s chief executive Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to stick with the 6 April debut in the US despite concerns the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns could impact its target audience. Many analysts expected Quibi viewers to watch while commuting or during a break at work or school, but those activities are on hold for many during government lockdown periods.
Quibi says its target audience is between 18-44 years old viewers already comfortable with short-form storytelling and streaming on their smartphones