Is Quibi Interest Waning?

Launched April 6 with much fanfare and $1.75 billion in investment backing, mobile-centric video streaming platform Quibi generated 1.7 million app downloads during its first week, ranking sixth on Google Play through April 9 and 20th among free apps on Apple’s App Store.

That excitement appears to be slowing as the $4.99 monthly service ($7.99 without ads) from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard and eBay CEO Meg Whitman now ranks 57th on the App Store, while dropping five spots to 20th on Google Play — behind notable rivals Netflix and Disney+.

Not surprisingly, the No. 1 app on Google Play is the Zoom video conferencing platform increasingly used by companies to interact with employees and staff during social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Quibi, which is short for “quick bites,” offers original movies and TV shows in eight-to-10-minute snippets on a mobile device from ‘A’-list directors such as Steven Spielberg, Antoine Fuqua and Guillermo del Toro.

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At the same time, condensed video content for mobile consumers appears to have lost its targeted audience as intended users working from home watch TV — the latter distribution channel unavailable to Quibi content.

“Quibi marketed itself as a companion for [entertainment gaps] people have throughout a normal day — perhaps on a commute or waiting in line for lunch,” Danyaal Rashid, analyst at GlobalData, wrote in a note. “However, amid a pandemic and global lockdown, things are far from normal and people are just not experiencing these ‘moments.'”

Rashid said people at home are less likely to watch videos on their phones rather than on a full-size TV. In addition, the analyst said Quibi offers no option to add multiple profiles, which means the app is exclusively to only one user — making its subscription price seem more expensive than the competition.

“Quibi’s main competitor is social media, rather than other streaming apps,” he wrote. “Again, timing seems to be Quibi’s downfall here. People are using this lockdown to capitalize on the creativity and connection they can glean from social media apps, while Quibi offers only curated content.”

Indeed, Rashid said TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app for making and sharing short videos, is adding staff due to the surge in demand due to the pandemic.

“[Meanwhile], Quibi is left scrabbling for a foothold,” he wrote.

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The situation is not dissimilar to Go90, Verizon’s short-lived $1 billion mobile entertainment app that shuttered about a year after launching in 2015 with original content from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and the late Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short film Dear Basketball, among others.

Verizon More Than Doubles Q1 Video Subscriber Losses

Verizon dreams of a 5G future while stuck in pay-TV reality.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier April 23 reported it lost 53,000 Fios TV subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared to a loss of 22,000 video subs in the previous-year period.

Verizon ended the period with 4.39 million Fios TV subs compared to 4.59 million subs last year — down 199,000 net subs, or 4.3% from 2018.

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The company attributed the decline to ongoing consumer migration away from linear pay-TV to over-the-top video platforms.

While Verizon Internet connections increased 3.4% to 6.1 million from 5.9 million, broadband connections fell nearly 19% to 854,000.

The company ended the period with 6.97 million broadband connections, up 0.1% from 6.96 million subs last year.

Separately, Verizon Media, which includes Yahoo!, HuffPost, TechCrunch, Engadget, Makers and other brands, saw revenue drop more than 7% to $1.8 billion – largely due to declines in desktop advertising revenue offsetting gains in mobile ads.

Regardless, CEO Hans Vestberg touted Verizon’s “leadership” position in 4G and ongoing “innovation” in 5G wireless technology.

Rollout of branded OTT video products remains notably absent following last year’s $1 billion write-down of Go90, Verizon’s short-lived mobile video app.

“We are leading the world in the development of new technologies with the launch of our 5G network,” Vestberg said in a statement. “Our ambition remains unchanged to provide the most advanced next-generation networks in the world.”

 

Yahoo! Opens Paris Production Facility for Original Mobile Content

Verizon Media subsidiary Yahoo! has opened a production facility, Ryot Studio, in Paris aimed at creating original content for mobile device distribution in France.

With about 13 million unique monthly visitors and 5 million active users, Yahoo! France believes the studio will help create content specific to the local and regional market.

Designed to look like kitchen/living room, the studio features a series of interchangeable decors aimed at making video content totally different from TV shows.

The facility is adding staff across technical, production, presentation, program management, while Verizon Media expands its social media teams.

“I created a team composed of talents, strong personalities, each capable of bringing their universe, and to share it freely,” Alexandre Delperier, senior director and head of content for Yahoo! France, said in a statement. “We claim a different, creative, even playful approach, whether it is information, entertainment or sports. And this tool will allow us to gain even more responsiveness.”

The studio represents a forward move for Verizon, which has had little over-the-top video success in the United States. The telecom last year wrote off almost $1 billion in losses from the failed Go90 ad-supported mobile app targeting younger consumers on their cellphone.

Yahoo! France hopes to reverse the trend.

“We have a true role to play in the media landscape, not only as an aggregator but also as a content producer of our own formats,” Delperier said.

The studio will also offer third-party content, including political shows, news, NBA, tennis and soccer.

“This studio will serve both our editorial ambitions and the enrichment of our advertising offer,” said Erik-Marie Bion, VP, Verizon Media France and Germany. “We will be able to offer our customers new formats and user experiences.”

Katzenberg Touts ‘Quibi’ Potential

NEWS ANALYSIS: DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief executive Meg Whitman March 8 at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, unveiled details about Quibi, the streaming video service slated to launch in 2020.

The platform, which is targeting cord-cutters and younger-demo consumers comfortable streaming short-form video on mobile devices, aims to capture 20 minutes of the 70 minutes consumers spend daily watching scripted and non-scripted content, according to Katzenberg.

“Six years ago it was six minutes. A year and a half ago, it was 40 minutes. And today it’s 70 minutes,” he said, as reported by Techcrunch. “People love being able to watch great short form content on the go.”

Banking on Katzenberg’s studio clout and $1 billion in fiscal backing, Quibi reportedly has inked original content deals with director/producers Sam Raimi, Antoine Fuqua, Guillermo del Toro and Jason Blum. Content creators include Justin Timberlake, Kobe Bryant, Scooter Braun, Jennifer Lopez and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, among others.

The platform is also producing an original program on the creation of Snapchat and founder Evan Spiegel.

Whitman, who said she follows the data, claims confidence about Quibi based on the fact “our users” are watching a lot of video on mobile.

“They’re excited about the opportunity to see something differentiated,” she said.

So was Verizon in 2015 when it launched go90, the ambitious ad-supported streaming video app for mobile devices (i.e. cell phones) that featured original content from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and helped launch Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short, Dear Basketball.

The app lasted less than three years without generating traction with the same audience Quibi is targeting. Verizon ended up posting a $1 billion loss on the venture — a dubious footnote to retiring CEO Lowell McAdam’s legacy.

Katzenberg and Whitman say Quibi will not look to rival Netflix or YouTube. Instead, it will compete for a share of the online video behemoths’ mobile video users featuring about 100 original content items weekly, including a MTV-style music news program.

“We’re using a lot of judgment, and we’ll know whether it works when it launches,” Whitman said.