Quibi Streaming Service is Coming to Your Big TV

Quibi accelerating plans to bring bite-sized content to larger screens

Quibi heard the complaints and now consumers might be able to enjoy this pint-sized, streaming entertainment option on the screen of their choice.

Quibi launch
Quibi Chief Technology Officer Rob Post at the January 2020 Quibi launch event at CES 2020. Getty Images / Quibi

Less than two weeks after launch, Quibi, the mobile-only streaming option with shows featuring 6-to-10 minute episodes, is prepping a TV-screen option, according to Bloomberg and an interview Quibi CEO Meg Whitman gave to Bloomberg TV.

Why so soon? Apparently, consumers who downloaded the $4.99-a-month (though its free for the first few months) service complained that they couldn't watch the shows on a larger TV.

What's Quibi, again? The service comes from Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg and tech vet Meg Whitman. The short-form shows, which drop weekly, feature some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Steven Spielberg, Sophie Turner, Liam Hemsworth, and Chance the Rapper, who relaunched Punk'd on the network.

Format matters: The shows are shot in wide screen, but Quibi's proprietary presentation technology also allows the shows to instantly switch to portrait mode when you change the orientation of your smartphone screen. I tried this out and found the panning and scanning to try and fit relevant characters and action on the screen unsettling.

Timing does, too: Launching another streaming option during a time when we're literally being forced to stay at home by a pandemic might seem like serendipitous timing (two days ago, Whitman boasted to CNBC that the service already had 1.7 million downloads). However, perhaps it didn't make much sense to force people to watch episodic TV on a tiny phone screen while many of us are already sitting in front of our 50-inch HDTVs. If we were still traveling and commuting, Quibi's format might've been better received.

When and how: Whitman told Bloomberg TV, "It’s quite an engineering lift—it’s not easy—but the engineers are trying to think about how to do this on an accelerated time scale." Quibi as a large-screen service could arrive within six months, but it's next hurdle may be getting a Quibi app on third-party streaming boxes like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku. Without them, it's unlikely consumers will find the Quibi app.

Bottom Line: Our social distancing and stay-at-home reality has shown how much we value distracting entertainment options. Even so, we still want to watch them on our terms. It's a lesson Quibi is learning the hard way.

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