These are busy times in the TV streaming world, and the just-launched Quibi is the latest competitor on the scene. Unlike upcoming rivals Peacock and HBO Max, though, this isn't a straightforward Netflix competitor. Instead, Quibi is a mobile-focused streaming service, with the name Quibi being short for 'quick bites'. You can only watch it on phones, as of launch day - you can sign up here.
The brainchild of Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, it's backed by huge amounts of cash, has Hollywood royalty like Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro involved and boasts daily content updates. It's definitely a different proposition to other streamers, but will it catch on?
Now that it's here, you're probably wondering whether you should care. Below, we'll discuss Quibi's price, how you sign up, its generous 90-day free trial and shows you can enjoy on the service.
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Quibi release date: it's out now
Quibi launched on April 6, 2020 in the US, the same month as NBC's new Peacock streaming service lands, and a month ahead of HBO Max's May debut – a busy few weeks in the ever-more-competitive streaming wars. You can download it now.
While we were unsure on an international release date, Quibi has launched in the UK and other territories like Australia as well.
Quibi price: how much the two tiers cost
Quibi has launched with two pricing options for US viewers. If you're happy to watch your shows interrupted by ads, you pay $4.99 a month. If you want an uninterrupted ad-free experience, it'll set you back $7.99 a month.
In the UK right now, you can only get the ad-free option, presumably because Quibi isn't set up to sell UK ad inventory yet. That'll set you back £7.99 a month, which is £2 more per month than Disney Plus.
In Australia, Quibi reportedly has a flat AU$12.99 per month subscription fee.
Quibi free trial: try it for 90 days
Signing up to Quibi before April 30 gets you a generous 90-day free trial. Just download either of the apps using the links below, and you get the option to grab the free trial. You'll need to enter your payment details, but that's a healthy slice of content for no commitment. Just remember to cancel in three months if you don't want it any more.
Quibi app links, compatible devices and how to sign up
Quibi only works on mobile devices right now, so you can download it on all Apple devices compatible with iOS 11.0 or above (app link here). On Android, download the app here. You'll be asked to create an account once you open the app, and after you've created an account, you can begin the 90-day trial mentioned above, Like we say, you will need a payment method to begin the trial.
If you were hoping to watch it on PS4, you're out of luck, as it looks to remain mobile-only for the time being.
That's likely because of its Turnstyle feature, which lets you watch content in landscape or portrait, depending on how you're holding your phone.
Quibi launch shows: everything you can watch at launch
Quibi has launched with a bumper selection of shows, and four movies cut up into smaller episodes, with new instalments being released daily. Quibi shows break down into three categories: Movies in Chapters, Daily Essentials and finally Unscripted and Docs.
Here's everything on the Quibi app at launch, per the streaming service, and which of the relevant categories they fit into:
Quibi content at launch
- Flipped (scripted, Movies in Chapters)
- Most Dangerous Game (scripted, Movies in Chapters)
- Survive (scripted, Movies in Chapters)
- When the Streetlights Go On (scripted, Movies in Chapters)
- &Music (documentary)
- Chrissy’s Court (unscripted)
- Dishmantled (unscripted)
- Fierce Queens (documentary)
- Gayme Show! (unscripted)
- Gone Mental with Lior (unscripted)
- I Promise (documentary)
- Memory Hole (unscripted)
- Murder House Flip (unscripted)
- NightGowns (documentary)
- Nikki Fre$h (unscripted)
- Prodigy (documentary)
- Punk’d (unscripted)
- Run This City (documentary)
- Shape of Pasta (documentary)
- Singled Out (unscripted)
- Skrrt with Offset (unscripted)
- Thanks A Million (unscripted)
- The Sauce (unscripted)
- You Ain’t Got These (documentary)
- Around the World by BBC News (Daily Essentials)
- Weather Today by The Weather Channel (Daily Essentials)
- Morning Report by NBC News (Daily Essentials)
- Evening Report by NBC News (Daily Essentials)
- Saturday Report by NBC News (Daily Essentials)
- Sunday Report by NBC News (Daily Essentials)
- The Replay by ESPN (Daily Essentials)
- NewsDay by CTV (Daily Essentials, Canada)
- NewsNight by CTV (Daily Essentials, Canada)
- Sports AM by TSN (Daily Essentials, Canada)
- Pulso News by Telemundo (Daily Essentials)
- For the Cultura by Telemundo (Daily Essentials)
- Close Up by E! News (Daily Essentials)
- Fresh Daily by Rotten Tomatoes (Daily Essentials)
- Speedrun by Polygon (Daily Essentials)
- Pop5 by iHeartRadio (Daily Essentials)
- No Filter by TMZ: AM (Daily Essentials)
- No Filter by TMZ: PM (Daily Essentials)
- Last Night’s Late Night (Daily Essentials)
- All The Feels by The Dodo (Daily Essentials)
- The Daily Chill (Daily Essentials)
- The Rachel Hollis Show (Daily Essentials)
- Sexology by Shan Boodram (Daily Essentials)
- The Nod with Brittany & Eric (Daily Essentials)
- Trailers by Fandango (Daily Essentials)
Quibi is mobile-only, which defines how you watch the content
Adam Harter and our partners @PepsiCo have produced the VERY-FIRST Turnstyle ad, created for @mountaindew.Here.It.Is. #CES2020 #QuibiCES pic.twitter.com/pGxcnTDCc9January 8, 2020
We've become accustomed to having the option of watching shows from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services on our phones, but that was always just one the many ways to view. With Quibi content, mobile devices are the only place you can watch – quite a contrast to Martin Scorsese imploring viewers not to watch his Netflix hit The Irishman on their phones.
The innovative 'Turnstyle' feature (see above) allows you to instantly flip between watching a show in widescreen (like you do on your TV) and portrait (like a phone) orientations. A lot of the time, how you watch will be down to personal preference, but on some shows it'll change the way you see the story – upcoming thriller series Wireless will give you the chance to shift the POV depending on how you hold your phone, with the portrait mode allowing you to see how things unfold on the lead character's smartphone.
The platform is looking to attract people on the go, which right now is complicated by a lot of people being stuck indoors due to the current health crisis. In theory, though, this is a great fit for commuters, assuming they're fine with the price.
All of the programming runs at somewhere between 4-10 minutes in length – Quibi is short for 'Quick Bites' – and all the content is downloadable, too.
But there's set to be more to the service than simply showing short TV episodes on a small screen – Quibi are promising to embrace the potential of the mobile device to create a new user experience, much as Netflix brought a new dimension to storytelling with interactive Black Mirror episode 'Bandersnatch'. We're yet to see how that will manifest, though, beyond the Turnstyle feature.
Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg's new horror series After Dark will take advantage of your device's clock to ensure the show's title is entirely literal, only allowing you to tune in at night. It'll be interesting to see what other standard phone functions Quibi can exploit on their future releases.
"What we're trying to do is bring together the best of Hollywood and the best of Silicon Valley to make viewing short-form content on your mobile extraordinary," said co-founder and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg before launch. "I think we are doing something that is now such a well-established consumer habit. You have 2.5 billion people walking around with these televisions in their pocket. They're already watching a billion hours of content every day. I just know it's going to work."
Future shows coming to Quibi
The launch is just the beginning of Quibi's content, with much more to come in the rest of 2020. On April 13, new programming is coming to the service. Antoine Fuqua's #Freerayshawn comes to Quibi starting that day, described as a modern-day take on Dog Day Afternoon. The Stranger, about someone held captive in a ride share for 12 hours, arrives then too. The shows Agua Donkeys, 50 States of Fright, Elba Vs Block, Let's Roll with Tony Greenhand and Fight Like a Girl from the WWE land on that date as well.
On April 20, expect Anna Kendrick's Dummy on the scripted side, and Iron Sharpens Iron and Fashion's a Drag on the non-scripted front. Finally, on April 27, expect unscripted shows Cup of Joe and Floored to join the line-up.
Beyond April, potential future highlights include Spielberg's aforementioned After Dark, a reboot of The Fugitive with Kiefer Sutherland and Logan's Boyd Holbrook, and an as-yet untitled twist on zombies from Guillermo del Toro.
Elsewhere, director Doug Liman will take on superhero drama Crazy Talented, where the residents of a psychiatric ward deal with superpowers; Hardwicke directs Emily Mortimer and Don Cheadle in future-set sci-fi tale Don't Look Deeper, about a high school kid who realizes she may not be human; and Frat Boy Genius will give the Social Network treatment to Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel. There's also a remake of 1999 American football movie Varsity Blues in the works.
Will Quibi catch on?
Quibi has huge levels of financial backing – it's already brought in a reported $1.75 billion of investment, with all the major Hollywood studios contributing – and it's had no trouble enticing advertisers. Indeed, Quibi say that Google, Procter & Gamble and Walmart are already on board, and its entire first year of ad inventory in the US has already been sold out.
Will people care, though?
There's no denying that Quibi has rounded up some serious talent in building this brand new video platform, but that subscription fee feels like its biggest obstacle in an increasingly busy streaming market. It's a forward-thinking idea, to create TV around the changing ways we watch video, but ultimately that $4.99 per month (and more if you're living outside the US) might still be a big ask when you can already watch free video content from Facebook, YouTube or Instagram on the go. And right now, people aren't on the go a whole lot.
Still, the launch content and the quality of the app suggests it could have a bright future. Stay tuned.
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Samuel is a PR Manager at game developer Frontier. Formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor, he's an expert in Marvel, Star Wars, Netflix shows and general streaming stuff. Before his stint at TechRadar, he spent six years at PC Gamer. Samuel is also the co-host of the popular Back Page podcast, in which he details the trials and tribulations of being a games magazine editor – and attempts to justify his impulsive eBay games buying binges.