You already watch a lot of stuff on your phone. There’s no shortage of options, between big platforms like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Twitch, or the social media streams of TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. But what if some of those programming options — particularly the ones on Netflix and Hulu — are just too long?
Enter Quibi, a streaming platform that will specialize in “quick bite” (hence the name Quibi) scripted, unscripted, and news content that will be no longer than 10 minutes and that you will only be able to watch on a mobile device. The service is managed by a bunch of media industry veterans and is attracting top-tier, A-list talents, all of whom seem eager to make serialized and episodic short-form entertainment.
Here’s everything to know about Quibi, which will be available to watch this spring.
Quibi is coming in April 2020. The platform will arrive on mobile devices on April 6, TV Guide has confirmed, the same month NBCUniversal plans to roll out its streaming service Peacock and one month before WarnerMedia launches HBO Max in May. It’ll be a busy time of year for new streaming services.
Quibi is spearheaded by some technology and media bigwigs. Quibi’s founder and guiding hand is Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chairman of Disney from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s and one of the co-founders of the movie studio Dreamworks. The company’s CEO and technology point person is Meg Whitman, the former CEO and president of Hewlett-Packard.
Quibi will have a tiered pricing structure. Similar to Hulu, Quibi will have different paid experiences. For $4.99 a month, users will get one ad before the start of the video; the length of the ad will depend on the length on the video. Per Variety, a video that is five minutes or less will have a 10-second ad, while videos longer than that will have a 15-second ad. The service’s ad-free tier will cost $7.99 a month. If you aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to a subscription, Quibi is also offering a 90-day free trial if you sign up before April 6 on Quibi’s website.
Quibi also partnered with T-Mobile so that T-Mobile customers with unlimited family plans can get a year of Quibi added to their plan for free by signing up between April 6 and July 7 on mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android.
Quibi will produce just about every type of content. Beyond the fact that all Quibi shows will be under 10 minutes in length, Quibi’s programming slate is all over the place. They have comedies, dramas, docuseries, newscasts, reality shows, talk shows, and pretty much every type of show you can imagine. The service has also lined up lots of A-list names to produce and star in these projects, including Steven Spielberg, Sophie Turner, Kevin Hart, Kendall Jenner, Idris Elba, and more.
Quibi has categorizes their content into three groups: movies in chapters, which are serialized scripted stories told across multiple episodes (also known as television series); unscripted and docs, which includes food, travel, talk, and more; and daily essentials, which are shows that cover that day’s biggest news and information. You can check out a full rundown of all the shows coming to Quibi right here.
50 shows will be available to stream at launch. When Quibi launches on April 6, users will be able to choose from 50 of their series to stream, including the Liam Hemsworth thriller Most Dangerous Game, the Sophie Turner drama Survive, a Singled Out revival, and news shows from NBC, CBS, BBC, Telemundo, and more. You can see all 50 shows that will be available to stream when Quibi launches here.
Quibi shows won’t be binge-friendly right away — but you won’t have to wait too long. The platform’s scripted content will release episodes, or chapters, as Quibi prefers to call them, daily. The total runtime of a scripted show is expected to be between two and two-and-a-half hours per season, divided into 12 to 14 daily episodes. Its reality and unscripted programs will be largely episodic and run for about 10 episodes. If you want to binge most of these programs, you’ll have to wait anywhere between one week or two after the show launches to have the full season available. There will also be Quibi’s “daily essentials,” which is their daily news and lifestyle programs, including series from BBC News, ESPN, and 60 Minutes.
You’ll be able to watch in landscape and portrait mode. Quibi’s programming will be designed to be viewed in either landscape or portrait modes without any loss of image quality. The way a user views a show may even change what the viewer sees in the scene. For example, when watching the Quibi drama Wireless, about a college student stranded in nature with only his smartphone to help him survive, horizontal viewing will show you star Tye Sheridan but vertical viewing will show you the interface of the character’s phone.
At CES in January, Quibi showed off the first look at this technology, which they call Turnstyle, and the initial reaction was largely positive.
One show. One screen. Two perspectives.
Hold the phone horizontally = Cinematic perspective.
Hold the phone vertically = The character’s phone takes over your phone. #QuibiCES pic.twitter.com/mANwJJKsGU
— Quibi (@Quibi) January 8, 2020
Quibi is seriously only available on phones. While some mobile users can project a phone’s screen to their TVs, the Quibi app — and thus its programs — will only be available on phones. The service also announced in October 2019 that it had partnered with T-Mobile, which will be the exclusive wireless distributor for Quibi. While details on what this partnership entails have yet to be announced, this doesn’t mean that only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi.
Quibi is targeting millennials and Generation Zers. In an interview with Vulture, Katzenberg explained that the platform “is for 18-to-44-year-olds, and very, very targeted at the 25-to-35-year-old millennial.” Perhaps in a gesture to those generations, Whitman vetoed engaging in data mining and monetization through the app. “It’s just on the wrong side of history,” Whitman told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s not consistent with our brand and what consumers expect today.”
If you want to watch Quibi shows without Quibi, just practice some patience (and hope). One interesting thing about the Quibi model is that creators will be allowed to shop their content to other platforms after two years, potentially editing the “chapters” into a movie. Quibi also relinquishes exclusivity rights after seven years, which means the creators will own their projects outright after that period.
Quibi will launch on Monday, April 6.