Analyst: Quibi facing a tough road ahead after rocky start | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our privacy policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them. [Close]
After a prolonged period of no little hype and great expectation the Quibi millennial-focussed short-form premium mobile TV streaming service finally launched on 6 April and as it approaches its first month, analysts are already questioning the future of the service especially in a post Covid-19 world.

quibi 27 aug 2019Founded by former Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and ex HP and eBay CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi committed to spending in its first year over $600 million on content covering scripted and original entertainment, sports and news. Before launch it inked deals with the likes of NBCUniversal, and its Spanish-speaking subsidiary Telemundo, The Weather Channel and ESPN and offers shows starring Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, Kevin Hart, Chrissy Teigen, and Kaitlin Olson.

In March 2020 Quibi closed a second round of financing worth $750 million, bringing its total investment to $1.75 billion and the service boast a number of unique user experience features. In particular features include Turnstile, said to be unique feature that allows 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.

Yet for all the content and capability, as it approaches its first month of operation, Quibi has to date underwhelmed. Data from Sensor Tower found that that just 300,000 mobile users in the service’s launch markets of the US and Canada installed the app on 6 April .

This meant Quibi had attracted just 7.5% of the approximately 4 million installs seen by Disney+ in the US. and Canada when it launched there on 12 November 2019. HBO NOW, in comparison, was installed approximately 45,000 times at its launch on 7 April 2015, five days ahead of the Game of Thrones season five premiere. And in the two weeks since 6 April, Quibi itself reported driving 2.7 million app downloads. This is half a million less than Disney+ attracted in its first day on 12 November 2019.

Questions about whether Quibi would succeed were asked months before its launch. In January 2020 at the CES trade show, industry analysts wondered whether the offer would achieve its ambitions. 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?”h

Now assessing the launch to date and the future prospects for Quibi, analyst TDG pointed out that the true metric for the service’s success would be active users and paying subscribers rather than downloads. Indeed in a research note TDG argues that while Quibi certainly may seem to be above average in converting downloads to active users, its content was not enjoying rave reviews so far and that in the long-term this could be troubling for the service.

Another key reason that TDG said was potentially damaging was the fast that both the US and Canada were deploying Covid-19 lockdown regimes which meant most potential users were at home and so diminishing one of the USPs of a mobile video service. The analyst cited media reports of customer frustration that Quibi was not available n TVs at launch. Quibi has noted this issue and Whitman has already told US media that the company was working on a large-screen offer.

Yet what was most worrying to TDG was the service’s business model and while it said Quibi deserved credit for investing heavily on a mobile-focused platform and trying something new and betting big on delivering premium short-form mobile content, TDG was unsure whether people were willing to pay for a service whose primary competition was free mobile apps such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook Watch.

Yet Quibi is progressing wih adding content to its slate and going forward TDG noted that while once the Covid-19 lockdown pass people resume more mobile lifestyles, Quibi's value proposition will be more compelling. But it says that ultimately assumption that people will pay for short-form mobile content has not been proven and while Quibi still had time and money to pivot its business model and improve content, the company was facing a tough road ahead after its rocky start.