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What to Know About Quibi, the Short-Form Mobile Streaming Service

Here are all the details on pricing, programming, and more

Noel Kirkpatrick, Sadie Gennis

Quibi officially launched on Monday, April 6, adding yet another streaming service to the increasingly crowded landscape. Quibi does set itself apart from other services, such as Hulu, Netflix, and even YouTube, with its unique strategy to only create short-form videos that you have to watch on your phones. Quibi specializes in "quick bite" (hence the name) scripted, unscripted, and news content that will deliver episodes in under 10 minutes and feature some of the biggest talent across entertainment, music, and sports.

Here's everything to know about Quibi, including how much it costs and what you can watch.

Quibi says the service had a successful start. In its first week, Quibi hit over 1.7 million downloads, CEO Meg Whitman told CNBC. Since the app launched in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, questions were raised as to how a streaming service dedicated to short-form mobile content would actually perform. "It turns out people have in-between moments at home." Whitman said. "We don't actually think it hurt us." The content is apparently performing well too, with Whitman saying that 80 percent of users completed the first episode of a show after starting it. And as for users who still wish they could cast Quibi to their TVs, apparently that feature is being fast-tracked, too.

Quibi has a tiered pricing structure. Similar to Hulu, Quibi has different paid experiences. For $4.99 a month, users will get one ad before the start of the video; the length of the ad will depend on the length on the video. Per Variety, a video that is five minutes or less will have a 10-second ad, while videos longer than that will have a 15-second ad. The service's ad-free tier will cost $7.99 a month. If you aren't sure if you're ready to commit to a subscription, Quibi is also offering a 90-day free trial if you sign up on Quibi's website.

All the Shows Coming to Quibi

Quibi also partnered with T-Mobile so that T-Mobile customers with unlimited family plans can get a year of Quibi added to their plan for free by signing up between April 6 and July 7 on mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android.

Quibi produces just about every type of content. Beyond the fact that all Quibi episodes will be under 10 minutes in length, Quibi's programming slate is all over the place. They have comedies, dramas, docuseries, newscasts, reality shows, talk shows, and pretty much every type of show you can imagine. The service has also lined up lots of A-list names to produce and star in these projects, including Steven Spielberg, Sophie Turner, Kevin Hart, Kendall Jenner, Idris Elba, and more.

Quibi categorizes their content into three groups: movies in chapters, which are serialized scripted stories told across multiple episodes (also known as television series); unscripted and docs, which includes food, travel, talk, and more; and daily essentials, which are shows that cover that day's biggest news and information. You can check out a full rundown of all the shows coming to Quibi right here.

​Survive, Nikki Fre$h, Elba vs. Block

Survive, Nikki Fre$h, Elba vs. Block

Janis Pipars/Quibi, Carlos Eric Lopez/Quibi, James Gillham/Quibi

50 shows are available to stream at launch. Quibi debuted with a sizable library available for users to stream, including the Liam Hemsworth thriller Most Dangerous Game, the Sophie Turner drama Survive, a Singled Out revival, and news shows from NBC, CBS, BBC, Telemundo, and more. You can see all 50 shows that are available to stream on Quibi here.

Quibi is spearheaded by some technology and media bigwigs. Quibi's founder and guiding hand is Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chairman of Disney from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s and one of the co-founders of the movie studio Dreamworks. The company's CEO and technology point person is Meg Whitman, the former CEO and president of Hewlett-Packard.

Quibi shows won't be binge-friendly right away -- but you won't have to wait too long. The platform's scripted content will release episodes, or chapters, as Quibi prefers to call them, daily. The total runtime of a scripted show is expected to be between two and two-and-a-half hours per season, divided into 12 to 14 daily episodes. Its reality and unscripted programs will be largely episodic and run for about 10 episodes. If you want to binge most of these programs, you'll have to wait anywhere between one week or two after the show launches to have the full season available. There are also Quibi's "daily essentials," which are their daily news and lifestyle programs, including series from BBC News, ESPN, and 60 Minutes.

You'll be able to watch in landscape and portrait mode. Quibi's programming is designed to be viewed in either landscape or portrait modes without any loss of image quality. The way a user views a show may even change what the viewer sees in the scene. For example, when watching the Quibi drama Wireless, about a college student stranded in nature with only his smartphone to help him survive, horizontal viewing will show you star Tye Sheridan but vertical viewing will show you the interface of the character's phone.

At CES in January, Quibi showed off the first look at this technology, which they call Turnstyle, and the initial reaction was largely positive.

Quibi is seriously only available on phones. While some mobile users can project a phone's screen to their TVs, the Quibi app -- and thus its programs -- is only be available on phones. Not your laptop, not your mobile tablet -- just phones. They are reportedly working on a way to cast Quibi to your TV, but until then prepare to have a charger handy because if you want to do a big Quibi binge, your battery will definitely need a boost.

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Quibi is targeting millennials and Generation Zers. In an interview with Vulture, Katzenberg explained that the platform "is for 18-to-44-year-olds, and very, very targeted at the 25-to-35-year-old millennial." Perhaps in a gesture to those generations, Whitman vetoed engaging in data mining and monetization through the app. "It's just on the wrong side of history," Whitman told the Los Angeles Times. "It's not consistent with our brand and what consumers expect today."

If you want to watch Quibi shows without Quibi, just practice some patience (and hope). One interesting thing about the Quibi model is that creators will be allowed to shop their content to other platforms after two years, potentially editing the "chapters" into a movie. Quibi also relinquishes exclusivity rights after seven years, which means the creators will own their projects outright after that period.

Quibi is available now.