Short-Form Streamer Quibi Hits 1.7 Million App Downloads in First Week

Mobile-only service is also fast-tracking a connected TV option

Photo of a purple background with a hand holding a smartphone with the Quibi logo
80% of people who began watching Quibi episodes finish them, according to CEO Meg Whitman. Quibi

Key insights:

More than 1.7 million people have downloaded Quibi, the app for the short-form mobile-only streaming service, since it debuted one week ago, “significantly exceeding” the company’s expectations.

Quibi was No. 1 in the Google Play store’s entertainment section, No. 2 in the Apple App Store’s entertainment section, and was among the top five apps overall in both app stores last week, the streaming service said today, a promising early start for the short-form video service whose launch plans were upended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The download figures, which CEO Meg Whitman first shared during a CNBC television interview Monday morning, underscore the early growth for the streaming service that has entered an increasingly crowded streaming space. The 1.7 million figure is higher than expected, Whitman told CNBC, and about 80% of people who began watching episodes on the streamer finish them.

It’s an optimistic sign for a streamer that debuted weeks after the entertainment and media industries ground to a halt over the pandemic. Quibi, which offers daily programming that is no more than 10 minutes per episode, was initially designed to appeal for people on the go who have short periods of in-between time to fill. That use case, however, has changed as people around the country are currently housebound because of COVID-19.

“Obviously, people are not on the go right now,” Whitman told Adweek in a recent interview. “But we did a little bit of consumer research, and while people aren’t waiting in line at Starbucks or at the dentist’s office, people do still have those in-between moments: in between Zoom calls, or in between home-schooling the kids, when you’ve got a 10- or 15-minute break.”

The platform has stockpiled enough original programming to last through Thanksgiving, Whitman told Adweek, and has adjusted its live news programming to home studios so it can continue to produce daily shows.

To account for the fact that most viewers are at home, the streaming service, which currently only allows subscribers to watch content on their mobile devices, will accelerate an option to cast programming to connected television devices, Whitman told CNBC.

Quibi’s launch day figures are dwarfed by another streaming services that recently landed on the market. Disney+, which debuted in November, reported 10 million sign-ups in two days. The streaming service, which has since expanded internationally, announced it had surpassed 50 million subscribers last week, a piece of good news for a company that has been hit hard by pandemic-related shutdowns.

But unlike Disney, Quibi isn’t launching with a well-known brand name and has the additional challenge of introducing its brand and the value of its concept to the public. A February Super Bowl ad from the streamer used “Quibis” as a unit of time to familiarize viewers with the concept behind the streamer, and the company is relying heavily on its network of celebrity stars to promote Quibi and its shows on their own channels.

Quibi is also relying on 10 launch partners who have signed on as first-year advertisers to the service. Those brands, which include AB InBev, Google and Walmart, have helped promote the platform on their own channels and get category exclusivity on the service for a full year before Quibi opens up to additional advertisers.

The streaming service is offering users a generous 90-day free trial, so it remains to be seen how many people will stick with it once they have to pay for a monthly subscription. Quibi is also offering users an ad-supported subscription tier that costs $4.99 a month, or an ad-free tier that costs $7.99 a month.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.