Quibi Acquires Daily News, Sport Shows for Canadian Service

Mirko Birbic, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Randy Lennox - Publicity_H 2020
Courtesy of Eric Charbonneau

The distribution and content pact with Bell Canada includes localized Daily Essentials programming for the Canadian offering to launch April 6.

Quibi, the mobile-only subscription TV service to launch next month in Canada has turned to Bell Media for exclusive daily news and sports programming, seven days per week.

The shortform streaming platform also signed a non-exclusive distribution deal for its streaming service with Canadian telecom giant Bell ahead of its April 6 launch. The agreement, over one year in the making, will see the Quibi app made available and marketed to Bell's mobile, broadband and video content customers nationwide via its marketing channels.

Besides the star-driven Hollywood content from Quibi, Canadian subscribers will also receive via Bell Media, Bell's content arm, exclusive local mobile-only news and sports content produced for the Daily Essentials programming. The Bell Media deal for Quibi's Canadian launch follows a similar agreement stateside between ESPN and Quibi for daily sports programming on the mobile-first platform, and a similar news content supply deal with NBC News.

Two Bell Media series will be part of Quibi’s Daily Essentials, and will feature curated news, entertainment and lifestyle content each day. "We are excited to partner with Bell and Canada’s top news and sports brands from Bell Media to deliver daily curated programs that will provide Canadians all of the biggest moments and stories of the day in quick bites,” said Katzenberg, founder and chairman of the board at Quibi, in a statement.

Bell Media is hiring 42 creatives to produce the daily news and sports content spun off from its CTV News and TSN sport channel assets as the Canadian broadcaster shares in the content spending from Quibi as it readies its shortform content platform for a day-and-date release on both sides of the border.

NewsDay and NewsNight by CTV News will cover the day's biggest stories, and will stream mornings and evenings on weekdays and only on weekend mornings. TSN's daily show is as yet untitled.

Quibi has been stockpiling content over the last two years so that it will be able to offer hours of programming immediately to subscribers. It plans to release around 175 original shows, consisting of 8,500 episodes, in its first year, with an initial 50 show launch slate.

The service is aimed at mobile users, with shows filmed specifically for the format and broken into "chapters" of eight or 10 minutes each. Canadian users will pay $6.99 monthly for an ad-supported version of the service or $9.99 for a version with no ads.

The Quibi deal allows Bell Media to tie up with a premium digital startup with content from A-list Hollywood creators and studios and follows the Canadian media player signing similar content supply deals with HBO, Showtime and Starz.

Parent Bell will also market Quibi to Canadians via Bell Media and Bell Mobility wireless marketing channels. The Quibi deal is Bell Media's latest digital expansion after launching SnackableTV, the exclusive Canadian home to Kevin Hart’s comedic Laugh Out Loud! Network, CraveTV, a local streaming service, and Much Digital Studios, a multi-channel network of Canadian and international YouTube creators.

Katzenberg is launching the upcoming premium shortform venture with former HP head Meg Whitman, both of whom have held meetings with Bell and Bell Media execs in Toronto over the last year. That evolving relationship included Bell Media Randy Lennox doing a fireside chat with Katzenberg to discuss Quibi at last year's Banff World Media Festival.

Lennox, who is also chair of Banff's board, and newly installed Bell president and CEO Mirko Bibic subsequently sat down with Katzenberg to put together a partnership for Quibi's Canadian launch.

"We realized that we were kindred spirits in terms of the combination of Hollywood and tech. With Bell having over 10 million mobile subscribers and Bell Media's desire to be an international content provider, we struck a deal to be the Daily Essentials exclusive content partner for Canada as well as a robust partnership on the Bell Media side," Lennox told THR.