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Major mobile-only SVoD service Quibi set to launch in April

A subscription video on demand service designed solely for mobile consumption will launch with the backing of much of the entertainment establishment.

Quibi is an abbreviation of ‘quick bites’ and is headed up by Silicon Valley veteran Meg Whitman and Hollywood aristocrat Jeffrey Katzenberg. This combination is being offered as evidence that the new service will deliver an ideal combination of entertainment and technology. We first encountered Quibi last year, but it used a CES keynote to ramp up the hype ahead of a 6 April launch.

The unique selling point is that all the content it offers will be specially created to be consumed on a mobile phone. This means not only special framing but clips ranging from four to ten minutes in length. The big new feature Quibi execs banged on about in the keynote was the ability to auto-rotate the content between portrait and landscape mode. In most cases this seems to just mean the portrait view is just a cropped and zoomed version of landscape, but there’s also the potential to offer unique perspectives depending on the alignment.

That last feature is novel but could easily become an annoying gimmick if used clumsily. So could a Steven Spielberg series called after dark, which you can only watch at night. What if you want to watch it during the day? Quibi needs to be careful that, in it’s desire to differentiate itself in the highly competitive SVoD market, it doesn’t get carried away with cute but irritating features.

On that note we spoke to Ovum’s Chief Analyst for entertainment Ed Barton, to get his take on the imminent launch. “Quibi’s innovations are revolutionary and it must, arguably, inspire a revolution in viewing habits to succeed,” he said. “Mobile-first viewing services have not enjoyed a particularly illustrious track record and already huge volumes of mobile video consumption are driven by YouTube, messaging and social apps, and Quibi is betting that there is space for a premium player. It is a bold bet especially when competition is more intense than ever before.”

Barton’s cautious assessment is reflected in Ovum’s initial forecast for emerging global direct to consumer video platforms, which you can see below. It should also be noted that Ovum still only sees these new platforms accounting for 29% of the total US (where most of them are expected to have the most traction) SVoD market by 2024.

Quibi does have a lot going for it, not least the apparent backing of the entire mainstream media and entertainment establishment. On top of that T-Mobile US will be offering it to its punters from launch and Google seems to have a major role too. It has promised three hours of fresh, original content per day and is asking for $5 with ads and $8 without ads for access. The pitch is that Quibi is premium video for millennials, which makes its partnership with Google especially intriguing as that puts it in direct competition with YouTube.

  • Video Exchange MENA


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