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Mobile video service Quibi had 1.7 million downloads during its first week, according to CEO Meg Whitman.
Quibi, which offers shortform episodic programming, was designed to be viewed on the go. Although the service launched April 6 amid the coronavirus pandemic, Whitman told CNBC host David Faber on Monday that sheltering in place “didn’t hurt us at all.”
The 1.7 million figure that Whitman cited does not indicate how many people signed up for the app, which is offering an extended 90-day free trial. Once the trial ends, Quibi will cost $5 with advertising and $8 without advertising. Whitman said that the initial reaction “exceeded our plans and expectations.”
The exec explained that even while isolating at home, people are still finding time to tune in to the app’s slate of programming, everything from the comedy Flipped starring Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson to a reboot of Punk’d, during breaks in the day. “Turns out, people have in-between moments at home; in between Zoom calls, in between wrangling the kids,” she said.
Founded by Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Quibi has raised $1.75 billion to create a mobile-first streaming video service devoted to offering up bite-sized programming. Unlike streaming giant Netflix and newcomers like Disney+, Quibi isn’t relying on libraries of licensed hits and well-known IP. Instead, it launched with 50 new shortform series, including news-driven programming called Daily Essentials.
In a March interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Whitman and Katzenberg acknowledged that Quibi would likely build its audience slower than Disney+, which shot out of the gate with 10 million signups and has 50 million paid subscribers after five months. “Hulu, Showtime, HBO, Netflix, none of them has ever behaved that way, and we won’t likely either,” Katzenberg said at the time. “We’re not going to be a rocket ship.”
On Monday’s CNBC appearance, Whitman said she is “delighted by the launch,” noting that 80 percent of people who start a Quibi show watch the entirety of the first episode. Completion rates are likely to be higher for Quibi shows in comparison to other streamers, given that all episodes run under 10 minutes each.
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