So it’s like Youtube, but you pay?
Kind of. Katzenberg and Whitman say that they are competing more with Youtube and social media than with the existing streamers, like Netflix. They argue that Quibi stands out for two reasons. Firstly, its roster of A-list stars and premium-quality shows (budgets run up to $125,000 per minute, which is on a par with top film and tv productions). Secondly, Turnstyle.
What the heck is that?
The Turnstyle technology was the big reveal of the CES presentation. The patent-pending tech allows viewers to switch seamlessly between portrait and landscape mode, which means that creators at least have to make two edits, and can even provide two simultaneous yet entirely different video streams (as in the demo below). Early reports suggest that the creators are already using the feature inventively, integrating the dual format into their storytelling.
Could Quibi shows exploit other phone features?
In theory, yes: imagine a character making a call, only for your phone to actually ring. In fact, Steven Spielberg’s horror series After Dark will make a modest use of viewers’ geolocation, ensuring that they can only watch the show after dark. Wider use of the phone is not really part of Quibi’s pitch for now, but it probably will be in the future, as it will help sell the platform as something qualitatively different from tv.
How good is the talent?
Pretty good — which is crucial, as Quibi is launching with no established franchises. Actors and filmmakers to have signed up so far include Zac Efron, Idris Elba, Kristen Bell, Chrissy Teigen, Kendall Jenner, Tyra Banks, Steph Curry, 50 Cent, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Soderbergh, and Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo. Quibi does no in-house production; everything is outsourced.
And in animation?
To date, four animated series have been unveiled. They are Gloop World, a stop-motion show from Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland; an adaptation of Anthony Piper’s superhero comic Trill League; Your Daily Horoscope, a narrative series featuring the zodiac animals; and The Andy Cohen Diaries, in which the titular writer-broadcaster shares anecdotes from his colorful life.
How will Quibi make money?
Advertising is projected to account for around a third of the company’s revenue, with the rest coming from subscriptions. User data won’t be monetized. The platform has raised $1.4 billion in funding from major investors (including the big Hollywood studios), and is aiming for 20 million subscribers within five years. Projects are licensed to Quibi for seven years, but creators can re-edit them as long-form films and sell them as such after two years.
When can I get it?
Quibi launches in the U.S. on April 6. An ad-supported subscription will cost $5, rising to $8 for ad-free.
(Image at top courtesy via Quibi launch video.)