In a story by the Verge Quibi’s Meg Whitman said that the exclusively mobile streaming service had always intended to be available to TV viewers via casting later. This does not square with any of its marketing at the start, nor have I run across anybody from the company saying so.
Take a look at some quotes from Meg Whitman at CES.
“Today we are living through another revolution in entertainment, this time on our mobile phones,” Whitman said in a statement Wednesday. “Innovations in mobile technology and network capability mean that we now have billions of users watching billions of hours of content everyday on their mobile phones.”
Whitman also introduced Quibi’s “Turnstyle” feature, which will allow users to switch between portrait and landscape modes while watching shows in the app on a smartphone or tablet.
The hook for Quibi is that people would take in super short segments while they are out and about. The company pictured people waiting in line at the bank or on a bus watching its content because it was easy to do on the run and further more filmed with mobile viewers in mind. That’s a weird concept as far as I’m concerned but Quibi wanted to own that market. And as far as services built only for mobile experiences, so far it does. Because nobody else has made that bet.
Now after about a month without any buzz at all, no break out hit, no viral videos and nothing to brag about as far as downloads Whitman told CNBC “We had always planned to be able to cast to your TV, so we’re going to see if we can accelerate that in the engineering roadmap,”.
Quibi has even put shows on YouTube for free. Now there is a way to show off the value of your streaming service. Put it on a rival format for free. I bet HBO Max will probably not be putting any its content on Peacock to promote subscriber growth, but maybe it will turn out Quibi is breaking new ground.
Without some sort of access to internal memos we would be tempted to take Whitman at her word, but I find it tough to. Have you ever been in a fight with a spouse or someone you were dating who got mad bc you were not talking about say an anniversary? And you put something together in your head and said “Well I was planning to tell you later but…..” Sure you haven’t. I think this is exactly what Quibi is doing now. After lauding the amazing things that Quibi would be able to offer the mobile user on a format made for mobile the story is all of a sudden that the content was always intended to be seen on a TV screen as well. This could have easily been accomplished by building in Apple TV and ChromeCast support. Somehow Disney+ found a way to get that done at launch.
But Quibi thought it was going to be hip. It was aiming at the too cool for school crowd that says “I don’t watch TV on a TV I just stream everything on my phone”. Or hoping that people would spend their free time away from the TV streaming its prank shows and sham court content instead of using multiple free mobile friendly services instead.
“Quibi doesn’t just offer creators a new way to tell stories,” Whitman said in her statement. “It offers advertisers a new opportunity as well: a premium, brand-safe platform that targets the millennial audience during their lean forward, on-the-go moments.”
The COVID-19 shelter in place orders put a real damper on the idea of the service built for the out and about and when this crashes and burns they may try and use that as an excuse “We could have never planned for this blah blah blah”. But this is the truth of the matter. It is not a good idea. I mean guess what is not having any problems. Netflix. Even in a totally normal situation the concept was badly flawed. And since the initial wave of downloads over the first 3 days which topped 1 million, there have only been around 1 million more. Even worse the reviews from the general public have never rolled in. People don’t seem to like the content or dislike it enough to think to say anything about it.