Short-Form Streamer Quibi Debuts, Revamps Marketing For Housebound Consumers

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Quibi, the much-anticipated short-form streaming service featuring high-end, mobile-only programming, is finally here, arriving in an already crowded streaming market that has been upended amid the continued spread of COVID-19.

As a result, the platform—which was created and has been marketed to on-the-go audiences—has had to revamp its campaign in the home stretch now that those potential subscribers are housebound and no longer on-the-go.

The streamer, helmed by longtime Hollywood creator Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, is debuting today with 50 original series that run the gamut: unscripted shows helmed by celebrities like Chance the Rapper and Chrissy Teigen will exist alongside thriller series starring Sophie Turner and daily news updates from broadcasters like BBC News and CBS. For all non-news content, the first three episodes will be available on day one, and subsequent episodes or chapters will be released daily.

The Quibi app is available to download in ​Apple’s App Store​ and ​the Google Play store​. While the service will cost $4.99 a month with ads and $7.99 without, it is offering a 90-day free trial for users who sign up on Quibi’s website with their email addresses before the end of the month. Certain T-Mobile users will also receive a free year of Quibi’s ad-supported tier, the companies said last week.

Quibi had created a unique pitch for its debut into the competitive streaming landscape: high-quality Hollywood-level production and episodes that, clocking in at 10 minutes or less per installment, are designed for people to watch on the go. But as the spread of COVID-19 continues disrupting the lives of people across the country, Quibi is now debuting in a vastly different world: 0ne where most of its target demographic is now stuck at home.

“Obviously people are not on the go right now,” Meg Whitman, Quibi’s CEO and co-founder, told Adweek. “But we did a little bit of consumer research, and while people aren’t waiting in line at Starbucks or at the dentist’s office, people do still have those in-between moments: in between Zoom calls, or in between home-schooling the kids, when you’ve got a 10- or 15-minute break.”

The pandemic has required Quibi to shift its marketing plans considerably. The streamer had prepared to show off its programming at the canceled South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas and had planned a glitzy red-carpet event in Los Angeles for April 5, the day before its launch. Quibi had also planned a major marketing campaign around live sporting events including March Madness and the Final Four. Those were all canceled amid lockdowns and stay at home orders.

“We don’t quite know what to expect since we’re launching in such an unusual moment. But we’re building this business for the long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Meg Whitman, Quibi CEO

Instead, the service has shifted marketing and promotion efforts to digital, with ads running in even greater numbers to streaming services like Hulu and Roku and on social platforms like Instagram and TikTok, as well as some traditional television buys, Whitman said.

This week, Quibi’s celebrity stars will host Instagram Live videos where they talk about their shows and the platform with one another, part of an effort to capitalize on Quibi’s considerable star power to get the word out.

Quibi has been working with its 10 launch partners, including companies like AbInBev and PepsiCo, whose advertising spend comprises the service’s first-year $150 million advertising inventory. (In total, 22 brands will advertise on Quibi.)

Partners like Google and Walmart have adjusted their creative as recently as last week in light of the pandemic, and Quibi extended its creative deadlines so brands had ample time to update their messaging.

“Every brand, Quibi included, is taking this day-by-day, and the conversations have been ongoing,” said Nicole McCormick, Quibi’s head of advertising partnerships. “It’s been this mad scramble, but it’s amazing how well we have all transitioned.”

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