Analysts question Quibi offer | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi millennial-focussed short-form premium mobile TV service has spent the last few months busily gathering content partners in time for launch in April 2020 but as the media legend presented the service at CES, industry watchers are questioning whether the offer will achieve its ambitions.

quibi 27 aug 2019Founded by the former Disney chairman and ex HP and eBay CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi has committed to spending in its first year over $600 million on short-form content covering scripted and original entertainment, sports and news. It has already inked deals with the likes of NBCUniversal, and its Spanish-speaking subsidiary Telemundo and The Weather Channel. 

In his presentation, Katzenberg unveiled Turnstile, a feature allowing videos to run across an entire mobile screen whether in portrait and landscape mode. This is designed to enable producers to make more creative decisions regarding characterisation and at CES Quibi said that it had received over 100 pitches from content makers seeking to use the technology.

Yet despite the huge amount of optimism and headlines generated by the service, some are sceptical as to whether it will be a sure fire success. In a research note, Strategy Analytics analyst Nitesh Patel said that Quibi was treading a fine line between potential success and failure. He asked: “Quibi is clearly a unique proposition compared to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other SVOD services...But will 10 minute episodic content format on a mobile device hook users and also bridge the divide between two needs, immersive entertainment and killing time?”

Strategy Analytics also believes the service’s $5 is at the upper end of the sweets spot for premium mobile video services and sees competition for subscription dollars continues to intensify with Disney+ and Apple TV+ as well as established competition from Netflix. “Without a freemium or bundled offering it’s difficult to see how Quibi is able to demonstrate its value to its target audience,” Patel added. “Even free, ad-funded, short-form video services have failed to gain major traction, e.g. Verizon’s ill-fated go90 a good example.”

Among the key questions that the analyst said still need to be addressed were how many consumers would pay for a short form VOD service available exclusively on mobile phones and given Quibi’s plans for operator-exclusive distribution, can this maximise revenue and profitability or would multi-partner distribution be a more effective business strategy.