Will people pay for Quibi’s snack-size shows? Free trial might help

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Nicole Richie as Nikki FreSh
Nicole Richie is Nikki Fre$h.
Screenshot: Quibi/YouTube

A new streaming service started Monday — but put down the remote. You won’t find Quibi on your television.

Instead, Quibi – its title a mashup of the words quick and bites – brings short-form entertainment through an app downloaded to an iPhone or iPad. If you are just hearing about Quibi, here’s a quick primer on the new streaming service.

Quibi. You got 10 minutes?

Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg founded the new mobile streaming service, betting consumers will be willing to pay $5 per month to watch shows that run 10 minutes or less.

Quibi’s programming model is an interesting salvo in the streaming wars, which ramped up last fall when a number of companies, including Apple and Disney, launched streaming services. Streaming initially proved attractive to TV viewers who grew tired of the rising costs of cable. Now, however, we are in danger of getting pinched a few dollars at a time to watch all that is offered.

The Quibi app launched with two dozen shows. The service plans to add a few new ones each week. By the end of one year, Quibi hopes to have 175 titles.

The company has been heavily promoting the app, including running a Super Bowl ad. Preorders on Apple’s App Store began in February.

The curious can try Quibi free for 90 days before deciding whether they want to pay to keep watching.

Quibi brings the star power

Several big names have attached themselves to Quibi projects. To name a few: Chrissy Teigen will play a judge on a show called Chrissy’s Court. Nicole Richie stars as a gardening rapper in the comedy Nikki Fre$h (a trailer is below). Chance the Rapper will host a Punk’d-style show. Tyra Banks is producing a documentary about beauty standards around the world. Even Tom Cruise is developing a show based on his character from the movie Tropic Thunder.

Will Quibi succeed? Katzenberg knows he is up against many doubters, but investors don’t seem to be among the critics. Quibi raised $1.75 billion in funding so far.

It is an interesting time to launch, with much of the world ordered to stay at home to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The homebound are looking for ways to entertain themselves.

“(There) are 187 million people who pay $10 a month for either Apple Music or Spotify,” Katzenberg told New York magazine. He says HBO is an example of a network that was laughed at for charging consumers to pay for something that was free.

“There was nothing wrong with broadcast TV. People loved it,” Katzenberg added. “But HBO did something that was highly differentiated, enough so that people felt it was worth paying a premium for. And that’s frankly what we are doing to the world of short-form today. In the same way that they said, ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO,” I would say it’s not YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – it’s Quibi.”