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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi OTT makes quiet India launch

The streaming service offers originals at less than 10 minutes each; free 90-day trial.

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MUMBAI: Almost silently, without any hoopla or noise, the $1.75 billion-funded, Jeffrey Katzenberg-promoted short video streaming service Quibi made its debut in India on 6 April. Launched in the thick of the CoVid-2019 pandemic, Quibi, which is short for Quick bites, has a price point of Rs 699 a month for the ad-free service and is available for consumption only on smartphones.

Interested viewers can download it from the Google Play stores and the Apple store and try it free for 90 days before they have to cough up the monthly fee. (The US version has two services ad-loaded at $4.99, and ad-free at $7.99 a month.)

The app’s promise is that it has no long-form catalogue movies or shows; every piece of content on it is 10 minutes or less and almost every one of them is an original.

The app launched with 50 shows, but the idea is to launch fresh content every week to take the catalogue up to 175. The slate covers everything from drama to comedy to documentaries to news to sports. On its launch day, Quibi saw over 300,000 downloads.

The big plus of Quibi is its turnstile feature which allows viewers to seamlessly switch between landscape and vertical portrait views without affecting the viewing experience. In fact, each show is edited keeping these two views in mind and two streams are delivered.

Former eBay boss Meg Whitman, who is the CEO of Quibi, stated at CES in Las Vegas in January that as compared to YouTube and platforms where shows were being made at $200 or $5,000 a minute, the spends on her service were $100,000 for a minute of content, speaking highly about its quality and the makers.

In a LinkedIn post, Whitman said, “Quibi was created to entertain, inform, and inspire by reimagining the way mobile users consume premium video content on their phones. The world is a very different place today than it was even two weeks ago. It is our hope that Quibi will provide a small moment of laughter, inspiration, or information during this unprecedented moment in our lives. I am so proud of the hard work of the entire Quibi team who have poured their hearts into building this new technology platform from the ground up. And, thank you to everyone who has made this possible, from our incredible content creators to our outstanding brand partners.”

Among the top-notch creators who have been signed on for the service include: Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Torro, Lena Waithe and Catherine Hardwick. This apart, there are special news shows being readied for it by NBC, BBC and Entertainment Weekly. Some of the shows which were trending on Quibi at the time of writing included: Most Dangerous Game, punk’d, Chrissy’s Court, The Report by NBC News, Fierce Queens, Shape of Pasta, Survive, Flipped, Thanks a Million, When the Streetlights Go on, etc.

During CES, Katzenberg and Whitman had stated that the service was for consumption on the go, during metro commutes, lunch or tea breaks or when someone had 10 minutes or less to spend on entertainment. With most consumers at home in many nations courtesy the COVID-2019 lockdown, the duo can be sure that viewers during the trial period will probably consume way beyond that.

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