Quibi was hoping to be the Netflix of the mobile phone world – a streaming service you watch only on your phone as you commute to and fro. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well. The coronavirus pandemic has more or less destroyed the act of commuting for the time being, and folks stuck at home have no need for “quick bites” on their phones. After a less-than-ideal launch, Quibi is now fast-tracking plans to let subscribers cast the service onto their TVs.
Last week, Quibi – the streaming service devoted to short-form content – launched, and the results were…not great. The first day resulted in only 300,000 downloads, which isn’t terrible, but isn’t great, either. That number has picked up a bit, though. Meg Whitman, who co-created the service with Jeffrey Katzenberg, has stated that there were 1.7 million downloads in the service’s first week, adding that 80% of users watched a show from beginning to end. That’s pretty good, and now, Quibi is taking steps to improve those numbers.
The biggest step is fixing things so that people can start watching Quibi on their TVs. As of now, you can only watch Quibi on your phone, and even if you have ChromeCast or Apple TV, you’re not able to put the content on a big screen. Whitman told CNBC (via Engadget) that being able to watch Quibi on a TV was always part of the plan, but it wasn’t intended to be included in the launch. However, they’re fast-tracking things now to remedy that. Whitman also added that she didn’t think the coronavirus situation hurt Quibi at all, but that’s debatable.
Quibi was set up to be an on-the-go service. It’s short 5-to-10-minute content was thought to be perfect for busy people who wanted to watch something on their commute to work, or lunch break. But no one involved with the company could’ve predicted we’d suddenly be in situation where commuting is currently on hold. As a result, people are finding lots of extra time on their hands, which means the idea of short-form content may not be that appealing – especially on a phone. Will letting Quibi cast to a TV change that, and improve the numbers? Time will tell.
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