Meg Whitman debuts Quibi streaming service


Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi speaks in Laguna Beach, California, October 22, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg revealed the final details of their streaming service Quibi Wednesday. The service will launch on April 6 for $4.99 per month with ads or $7.99 per month for an ad-free version.

Whitman, Quibi’s CEO, unveiled the service during a keynote speech at CES in Las Vegas. The company said in a press release it will launch 175 shows in its first year, with fresh content rolling out daily. Quibi, which stands for “quick bites,” takes a different approach than the other major streaming players. Instead of full-length shows, Quibi plans to set itself apart by targeting mobile users who can stream short episodes of programming that will run under 10 minutes.

A slew of celebrities ranging from Chrissy Teigen to Bill Murray have signed on to produce programs for Quibi. News programs from BBC, NBC News and ViacomCBS’s “60 Minutes” have deals to produce daily news shows for the service.

“Today we are living through another revolution in entertainment, this time on our mobile phones,” Whitman said in a statement Wednesday. “Innovations in mobile technology and network capability mean that we now have billions of users watching billions of hours of content everyday on their mobile phones.”

The company broke down its content offerings into three categories: movies told in chapters, episodic shows and daily essentials. Quibi has signed on Hollywood talent like Steven Spielberg to produce its “movies,” which will be released in seven-to-ten minute installments. Its episodic shows will span a variety of genres including food, sports and documentary series, and will include unscripted content. Its “daily essential” news programs will provide daily news shows of five to six minutes in length.

The company said it will release at least three hours of fresh content every weekday.

Whitman also introduced Quibi’s “Turnstyle” feature, which will allow users to switch between portrait and landscape modes while watching shows in the app on a smartphone or tablet.

Just as shows will be short, so, too, will ads. For pieces of content under five minutes, customers will watch a 6- or 10-second non-skippable spot, founder Katzenberg said last year. One way of being more attractive to advertisers is to serialize commercials, “doing a 60-second commercial that has four chapters to it — it will follow you as you watch four Quibis,” he said at the time.

Quibi has signed on ten advertising partners for launch, Whitman said Wednesday, including Procter & Gamble, Walmart, PepsiCo, Google, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Progressive.

“Quibi doesn’t just offer creators a new way to tell stories,” Whitman said in her statement. “It offers advertisers a new opportunity as well: a premium, brand-safe platform that targets the millennial audience during their lean forward, on-the-go moments.”

Quibi has attracted more than $1 billion in financing from traditional media powerhouses including Disney, Fox, NBC Universal and Alibaba, among others.

Quibi will enter a highly competitive market filled with a spate of recent entrants. Apple and Disney both launched new streaming services at the end of last year while AT&T is expected to launch HBO Max in May, and NBCUniversal said it will launch its ad-supported Peacock streaming service this year.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is CNBC’s parent company..



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