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CES 2020: Quibi takes shot at mobile video revolution with Google, T-Mobile


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CES 2020: Quibi takes shot at mobile video revolution with Google, T-Mobile

Film and media industry veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg has a clear goal for the new short-form video platform Quibi: to create a mobile entertainment revolution on the scale of the invention of the motion picture or TV show format.

Quibi Holdings LLC has partnered with a range of companies in technology, media and mobile to roll out 8,500 episodes of 175 new shows utilizing its proprietary technology Turnstile, which enables viewers to switch between portrait and landscape modes when viewing a program without interrupting the narrative. The platform will also use other smartphone features such as touchscreen, GPS, camera and gyroscope technologies to enhance the storytelling experience.

Launching April 6, an ad-supported version of the service will be available for $4.99 and an ad-free version will be available for $7.99.

SNL Image
Quibi CEO Meg Whitman unveils the new
streaming platform at CES 2020.

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

During a CES 2020 keynote address unveiling the long-anticipated new platform, Katzenberg and other Quibi executives hosted representatives from Alphabet Inc.'s Google, T-Mobile US Inc., PepsiCo Inc. and others to explain how it will harness "the next big opportunity in entertainment," as Katzenberg put it.

T-Mobile will offer the service to its 68 million wireless customers upon launch, and it will support the service on its nationwide 5G network.

"Quibi could be a perfect use case for 5G," T-Mobile President and COO Mike Sievert said during the keynote.

Given that T-Mobile's data traffic is about 67% video delivery, with 80% dedicated to short-form video, T-Mobile and Quibi have been talking about the platform "since it was a twinkle in Jeffrey's eye," he said.

Google and Quibi have been in talks for more than six years, Google Cloud President Tariq Shaukat said. Google offered the services it uses for YouTube to create short-form video at scale and over a range of download speeds, as well as storage and data resources through Google Cloud. The search giant also provided artificial intelligence solutions for content search and discovery and technology for Turnstile. The two companies also collaborated on a Quibi thriller, where viewers see the view from the perspective of the main character's Nest smart doorbell when the phone is in portrait mode.

On advertising, Quibi has sold out of its $150 million in advertising inventory for its first year of programming, tech-industry veteran and CEO Meg Whitman said, including spots from major brands like Walmart Inc., Progressive Corp. and Discover Financial Services, as well as partners like Google and T-Mobile. The company wanted to create an "uncluttered experience" for its viewers and advertisers, delivering just 2.5 minutes of advertising per hour of content viewing, compared to 17 minutes on traditional television.

Adam Harter — vice president of sports, media and entertainment for PepsiCo — discussed how advertisers can use the Turnstile technology to engage viewers in new mobile formats. They displayed an interactive Pepsi ad that showed a cold glass of the soft drink and warned viewers from turning their screens. When the screen is turned, the glass spills, and the text "oh no" is displayed.

Given the short ad lengths, advertisers were encouraged to break advertising experiences up into segments, telling their own stories throughout the episodic and chapter-based delivery of Quibi's shows and movies.

On innovation in story format, Quibi's engineers collaborate in the script-making process to utilize the phone's technology in storytelling, Whitman said.

The company will produce three different kinds of content, with each piece of content length at 10 minutes or less. In the first year it will post more than 35 movies, which will be delivered in chapters. There will also be 120 episodic shows and daily lifestyle and news programs, including content from NBC News, BBC and TMZ, Katzenberg said.

"We are setting out to deliver something for everyone and something for every moment," Katzenberg said.