The new streaming video service, which launched this week, is aiming to deliver high-quality content for a mobile-first audience. Whether or not it works, it suggests a sea change in how digital content is made.
People are consuming more content than ever, and a major product launch this week suggests that the way they do it is about to change in significant ways.
Quibi, a new streaming video service with some heavyweight names behind it—legendary Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and prominent tech executive Meg Whitman—is founded on a basic idea: that people want to consume more content on their phones in quick bites. The startup is drawing A-list stars to help push that idea, including Chrissy Teigen, Will Arnett, LeBron James, Chance the Rapper, and Jennifer Lopez.
The company has spent $1.8 billion on a bold bet in the middle of a pandemic, so the odds of success are looking tougher than they might have a month ago. But Quibi is worth watching and presents some interesting lessons about delivering content in new forms, including:
Build for the format. People often use their smartphones to consume information quickly in small chunks. Short articles and podcasts are well-suited to this format, but Quibi is banking on short-form (six- to 10-minute) video, which Hollywood has yet to embrace in a serious way. Critics have noted that some of Quibi’s scripted shows have been binge-like in their approach, making its results a bit mixed. But by creating things that can be watched in a few minutes and later turned back to, Quibi has the potential for long-term stickiness.
Build with brand safety in mind. One of the reasons that Quibi has grown quickly is that its content is heavily vetted and designed for quality. While you can certainly build cool things on user-generated platforms like Instagram or YouTube, quality draws trust— and advertisers. “Whitman has already sold out Quibi’s $150 million in ad inventory for its first year to companies including Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, and Walmart,” a recent piece from The Verge explained. “From an advertiser’s point of view, the fledgling startup offers brand safety in a way YouTube and TikTok simply can’t.”
Don’t forget more traditional content-consumption options. One of the early knocks on Quibi is that its content is accessible only through mobile devices. As Variety notes, Katzenberg sees a mobile-first approach as essential, but the decision nonetheless received a lot of criticism at launch. If you’re looking to reach audiences with mobile video content, you may need to deliver on larger screens as well.