×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi Picks T-Mobile as Wireless Launch Partner

Quibi, the short-form mobile TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced a pact with T-Mobile to be the official telecommunications partner for its April 2020 launch.

T-Mobile will be the exclusive wireless distributor when Quibi launches next spring. However, the arrangement doesn’t mean only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi: Anyone will be able to sign up for Quibi, regardless of their carrier.

Headed by Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi plans to launch its service April 6, 2020, priced at $5 monthly for a version with ads and $8 for an ad-free tier. The company’s theory is that it can attract a subscriber base of smartphone-centric millennials for its premium, bite-size programming with episodes running less than 10 minutes.

Presumably, T-Mobile will grant Quibi prominent placement on its wireless devices and/or offer subscribers some kind of price discount. The companies didn’t reveal any such arrangements, saying they will announce additional details of the partnership later.

“Quibi will deliver premium video content for millennials on a technology platform that is built exclusively for mobile, so a telecommunications partner like T-Mobile, with their broad coverage today and impressive 5G roadmap, is the perfect fit,” Whitman said in a statement.

John Legere, T-Mobile’s brash-talking CEO, commented, “Of course Quibi and T-Mobile are working together — we’re two mobile-centric disruptors committed to challenging the status quo and giving customers incredible experiences. Quibi is completely re-imagining video content for a mobile-first world, and that’s what makes this such a strong partnership.”

In reality, Quibi’s options for wooing a wireless carrier partner were limited to T-Mobile and Verizon, and the latter may be gun-shy on the mobile video space after writing off hundreds of millions of dollars related to the shutdown of its Go90 service. AT&T is firmly entrenched on its strategy to exploit WarnerMedia content, including with the forthcoming HBO Max, across its wireless footprint. Sprint, meanwhile, has agreed to be acquired by T-Mobile, a deal that cleared FCC approval but is being challenged by several U.S. state attorneys general.

The L.A.-based company has raised $1 billion from investors including Disney, WarnerMedia, Viacom, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Alibaba Group and Katzenberg’s investment holding company WndrCo.

Quibi has lined up scripted and unscripted projects from entertainment A-listers including Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Jason Blum, Steven Soderbergh, Trevor Noah, Catherine Hardwick, Anna Kendrick, Doug Liman and Peter Farrelly. It also has several deals for news and lifestyle content to be part of its Daily Essentials section from partners including NBC News, BBC Global News, CBS’s “60 Minutes,” ESPN, TMZ, Telemundo, Weather Channel, Entertainment Weekly, Hearst and others.

Even with big-name Hollywood talent on board, it’s uncertain how well Quibi will fare as the streaming wars heat up, with Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBCU gearing up to launch new offerings in the next six months. Katzenberg has argued that Quibi is hitting a “white space” with a slate of premium video specifically produced for on-the-go, small-screen viewing.

While Katzenberg has had a hugely successful career, most recently selling DreamWorks Animation to Comcast, there’s no guarantee Quibi will avoid ending up in the same graveyard that has claimed previous mobile-video ventures like Verizon’s Go90 and Jason Kilar’s Vessel.

According to Whitman, Quibi is aiming to launch 7,000 pieces of original content in Year One and will spend around $1.1 billion on programming deals. The startup has been seeking an additional $500 million in funding to get to the break-even point, she said.

Earlier this year, Quibi said it sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory to six advertisers, including Google and P&G, representing two-thirds of its $150 million in year-one ad slots.

More TV

  • T.R. Knight

    TV News Roundup: T.R. Knight Joins HBO Max's 'The Flight Attendant'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight joins HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” and BET renewed “Games People Play.” T.R Knight has been cast in HBO Max‘s dark comedy “The Flight Attendant.“ Knight will play Cassie’s (Kaley Cuoco) older brother, Davey. When Cassie’s life starts to unravel, Davey deals with the fallout. [...]

  • Days of Our Lives Bill Hayes

    'Days of Our Lives' Cast Members Released From Contracts

    The entire cast of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” have been released from their contracts, Variety has confirmed. The move could signal the end of the long-running daytime drama, which has run for over 13,000 episodes since first debuting in 1965. The show will go on an indefinite hiatus at the end of [...]

  • Live+7 Ratings Week of Oct. 28:

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Oct. 28: ‘This Is Us,' 'Grey's Anatomy' Double

    “This Is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” were among the biggest TV ratings growers for the week of Oct. 28. Both the NBC drama and the ABC medical show doubled their ratings after seven days of delayed viewing, with the former ending up on a 2.8 among adults 18-49 (the highest rating for a non-football show [...]

  • Taika Waititi Star Wars IG-11

    'The Mandalorian': Taika Waititi Compares Droid IG-11 to the Terminator

    Taika Waititi wants to clear up any confusion surrounding his character in the Disney Plus “Star Wars” TV series “The Mandalorian.” “The droid’s name is IG-11, a lot of people presumed it was IG-88 because he looks very much the same. [It’s] IG-11 actually.” Waititi explained to Variety. “I’ll be very honest with you. I [...]

  • Disney-Plus-Logo

    Disney Plus Launch Snafus: What Went Wrong?

    For some users, Disney Plus was a Disney Minus on its big launch day Tuesday. In its Nov. 12 debut, the service was beset by multiple problems, including Disney Plus customers being unable to log in to the service, access specific content, or use certain streaming devices — while some who called Disney’s customer service [...]

  • Richard Plepler HBO

    Former HBO Chief Richard Plepler Close to Signing Apple TV Plus Production Pact

    Former HBO chief Richard Plepler is close to signing an exclusive production pact with Apple TV Plus. Apple declined to comment and Plepler could not immediately be reached for comment. It’s understood that Plepler plans to launch a boutique production company designed to focus on a handful of high-profile projects. Among his advisors in pulling [...]

  • Byron AllenVariety Inclusion Summit, Inside, Los

    Byron Allen, Comcast to Square Off in Supreme Court on Racial Discrimination Case

    Byron Allen’s racial discrimination case against Comcast Corp. on Wednesday heads to the Supreme Court, where justices will consider Comcast’s argument that the case should hinge on two words: “but for.” Allen filed a $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast in February 2015, arguing that the nation’s largest cable operator was discriminating against his company, Entertainment [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content