Quibi may very well be the next big streaming service. But you wouldn’t know it by yesterday’s launch numbers.
According to Variety, it appears that Quibi was only downloaded approximately 300,000 on its first day of release. While 300,000 isn’t a small number, by any stretch, when you compare it to recent streaming launches, it’s incredibly low, especially in a time when people are aching for new content and on the heels of a huge marketing campaign that lasted months before the service officially became available.
So, how bad is that launch? Well, while it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison, we can put it up against Disney+, which launched in November. The Mouse House’s streaming service launched on November 12 of last year and though it was plagued by service interruptions, the app was downloaded 4 million times during its first 24 hours of availability. That means Quibi’s downloads sit at about 7.5% of what Disney+ was able to log. Granted, the power of Disney is undeniable, but you’d expect Quibi to at least do a tenth of what Disney+ was able to do, right?
Regardless of brand recognition being a factor, there is also one major issue that will always be relevant when comparing Quibi to its competition—the format. Unlike Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and the rest, Quibi is focused on mobile-only viewing, without an option to view on TVs or laptops. This is a difficult sell for many people, but something Quibi hopes can set itself apart from the competition.
Now, the inevitable question will come up about whether or not it was smart to launch a new streaming service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, according to Deadline, Quibi boss Jeffrey Katzenberg explained why they chose to launch yesterday, and if they did think about a delay.
When asked if he considered delaying the launch of the service, Katzenberg replied, “The answer is yes. We weighed that up and that was our bet. Our gamble was to play offense. Being able to come to market at a time when the entire world is in a defensive posture, to be able to come with something we’re proud of and delivers on its promise, might turn out to be an advantage. But over and again we wanted to be certain we weren’t taking advantage of people’s disadvantage. That was the turning point for us…to do this with the substantive change of giving it free for three months.”
Quibi will have plenty of new competition in the coming weeks, also. Both NBCUniversal’s Peacock service and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max will both launch in the next few weeks, giving us even more numbers to compare.