New Mobile-Phone Only Streaming Service Quibi

06 April 2020

Want to see Chance the Rapper play jokes on Hollywood stars? Enjoy a new action movie starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz? Or would you like to watch a six-minute version of the American news show 60 Minutes? Well, there is an app for all that, and more.

Quibi — a combination of the words "quick" and "bite" — is for mobile phone-use only. The streaming service will release short parts of movies and TV shows each weekday. And every day Quibi will provide news, sports and weather programming, under the name Daily Essentials. In all, the app plans to offer more than 175 programs this year.

Kaitlin Olsonfrom left, Veena Sud and Jeffrey Katzenberg pose for a portrait to promote the film
Kaitlin Olsonfrom left, Veena Sud and Jeffrey Katzenberg pose for a portrait to promote the film "Quibi" at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Quibi launched Monday in the United States and Canada with a 90-day free trial and 50 programs. None are more than 10 minutes each. They include Punk'd, with Chance the Rapper; the Hemsworth-Waltz movie Most Dangerous Game, and Chrissy's Court, with model Chrissy Teigen serving as judge of small claims cases.

Others who have signed on to either produce or appear (or both) in Quibi content include stars Reese Witherspoon, Joe Jonas, Jennifer Lopez, Lena Waithe and Sophie Turner.

The former head of Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg established Quibi. He named former Hewlett-Packard leader Meg Whitman, as the chief of the new streaming company. Whitman also served in leadership positions at Disney and Dreamworks.

For Katzenberg, it is the product that will make Quibi a winner.

"In all my years, there is one rule that has never failed, ever," he said. "When I had my hands on great content, whether it was an animation and movies, .... anything that I had ever had in my orbit that was really good, it's never not worked."

Quibi raised $1 billion in 2018 from investors including Disney, NBCUniversal and Viacom, and announced it won another $750 million in a second money raising effort that closed earlier this month.

The company's announced the free 90-day trial period in reaction to the coronavirus crisis. After that, Quibi will cost between about five to seven dollars a month depending on the version users choose.

The company increased production over concern about a possible writers strike last summer. Katzenberg said as a result it got programming done ahead of the COVID-19 shutdown of television and film production. Quibi is set for new releases through October or November under current conditions.

The company enters a marketplace crowded with new and existing streamers, including the future HBO Max. And then there is YouTube, a streamer filled with free short-form programs and an already loyal young-adult fan base.

Quibi's business model "faces some headwinds" as a result, said marketing expert Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities. But, he added that "betting against Katzenberg has not worked out well" in the past.

Katzenberg pushes back at the idea that YouTube will be a problem for Quibi.

"Please name me a single widely distributed, widely consumed product, that when somebody came along and offered a better version" it could not find takers, he said.

Quibi's main difference from other streamers is its Turnstyle technology. It always provides a full-screen image and permits users technical controls over what they see.

"I'm confident we're going to give people something they've never seen before," Katzenberg said. "They will decide if they're going to value that enough to want to pay for it."

I'm Jonathan Evans.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

mobile -adj. a portable usually cordless telephone for use in a cellular system

animation -n. a way of making a movie by using a series of drawings, computer graphics, or photographs of objects (such as puppets or models) that are slightly different from one another and that when viewed quickly one after another create the appearance of movement

distribute -v. to give or deliver (something) to people

consume -v. to use

screen -n. the usually flat part of a television or computer monitor that shows the images or text : the part of a television or computer that you look at when you are using it

confident -adj. certain that something will happen or that something is true