CES 2020: Quibi Rolls the Dice on Short-Form Content

Will viewers roll the dice on yet another streaming service? Today at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder and chairman of the board Jeffrey Katzenberg made their case for the new streaming service they are launching April 6 in the U.S. and Canada.

With more than 200 streaming services already in the market, how will another one not only survive but thrive? Quibi—which is short for “quick bites”—is building a new media empire based on premium, short, on-the-go movies, unscripted content, and news to be viewed in what it calls the “in-between” moments.The premise is that no one likes to get interrupted when they are watching content, so all Quibi’s content will be 10 minutes or less, which the company hopes will grab the attention of mobile viewers who are now watching 80 minutes daily.

Blockbuster Content, Lower Ad Loads

In the first year, Quibi plans on rolling out more than 175 new original shows and 8,500 episodes. “We will deliver more than 3 hours of premium, original, fresh content every weekday, 52 weeks a year—nearly 35 percent more than any television network delivers during their prime-time schedule,” said Whitman.

Quibi is working with top creators, both traditional and alternative, to build content specifically for the platform, from Academy Award winners Steven Spielberg, Peter Farrelly, and Guillermo del Toro to superstar directors like Antoine Fuqua, Lena Waithe, Sam Raimi, and Catherine Hardwicke and stars like Stephan James, Chrissy Tiegen, Laurence Fishburne, Dave Franco, Bill Murray, Emily Mortimer, and Kevin Hart, to name just a few.

Quibi is pitching a premium, brand-safe platform that targets millennials. Companies including Anheuser Busch, Discover, General Mills, Google, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, Progressive, Taco Bell, T-Mobile, and Walmart already have forked over $150 million, selling out the first year’s ad inventory. “We’re promising 2.5 minutes per hour, in 6-, 10-, and 15-second preroll,” said Whitman. “This is a lower ad load than any other service.”

Go Horizontal and Vertical 

Quibi is hoping viewers will literally flip for their content. The company is launching all its 1080p content produced in a video format that combines both horizontal and vertical edits within the stream. The two edits are packaged, encoded, and delivered in one file. In this way viewers can rotate their device and move seamlessly between full-screen content in both portrait and landscape mode at any time.

Quibi also is designing features like a social feed to improve search, new scrubbing controls, and metadata segmenting to break down the short content into even shorter segments. Behind the scenes, chief product officer Tom Conrad and chief technology officer Rob Post have extensive industry experience in digital, and hopefully they can steer the platform to meet all the promises covered.

“We are also working with industry leaders like Google and T-Mobile to ensure that content is delivered seamlessly regardless of network and bandwidth conditions,” Whitman said. The promise is low-latency delivery for streaming and quick downloads for offline viewing.

Quibi will be available ad-supported for $4.99 or ad-free for $7.99.

Quibi founder and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg at CES, alongside a screen showing off some of Quibi’s talent partners.

[Top photo of Meg Whitman courtesy CES; photo of Jeffrey Katzenberg by Jason Thibeault]

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