UPDATED: Quibi, the mobile-only streaming service from Jeffrey Katzenberg, said it hit 1.7 million installations within the first week of launch — higher than third-party estimates. According to analysts, the big-budget, short-form video streamer has had a relatively tepid reception in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Quibi said Monday that it reached 1.75 million downloads. By contrast, according to research firm Apptopia, the Quibi app had been downloaded and installed 1.15 million times as of Sunday, April 12. The service launched with a 90-day free trial.
Downloads have been fairly evenly split between iOS and Android devices, with about 87% of the installs from the U.S. and 6% from Canada, according to Apptopia data. Quibi’s app is available worldwide but the startup, led by Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, is focusing its marketing and customer-acquisition efforts on North America.
Quibi’s debut comes at an inopportune time: The service is designed to be watched only on mobile devices, in episodic chunks of less than 10 minutes while people are out and about. The COVID-19 crisis has left millions stuck indoors, and Quibi has frustrated some because it can’t be streamed to a connected TV set.
“Quibi was likely hoping for a better launch…. the coronavirus has definitely had an impact,” Adam Blacker, VP of insights and global alliances for Apptopia, wrote in a blog post. “It’s clear from using the app that it’s best used while commuting to work, which is not happening for many people right now.”
In an interview Monday on CNBC, Whitman said the company was “delighted” by the response to Quibi’s launch and that it beat internal forecasts. She said 80% of users who started a watching a show finished watching at least the first episode. “It turns out people have in-between moments at home,” Whitman said in the interview. “We don’t actually think [the coronavirus crisis] hurt us.”
Whitman has previously said that Quibi’s product road map included plans to add a feature to cast shows from smartphones to TVs. On Monday, she said the company is accelerating those development plans in light of widespread at-home quarantines.
It’s important to note that number of downloads doesn’t necessarily translate into active users. Some people who installed Quibi probably did not actually watch much — or even anything — on the app. According to Apptopia, Quibi users spent about 1.3 million hours in the app over the first seven days. That translates into an average of 10 minutes per day per app downloaded; again, however, it’s likely that some number of those who installed Quibi didn’t spend any significant amount of time streaming video.
On launch day, Quibi generated far less chatter on social media than Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus did when they debuted. And Quibi’s one-week total of 1.15 million app downloads compares with 12.5 million for Disney Plus over its first seven-day period in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands.
To be fair, Quibi is very different from Disney Plus, which has surged to 50 million paying customers in five months largely on the back of its well-known catalog of movie titles, including Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and Disney films. Quibi by contrast “made the bold move to launch with original content only,” Blacker noted. Whether the originals-only strategy pans out for Quibi remains to be seen, but the company is breaking with historical precedent as virtually every subscription-video service to date first launched with licensed programming.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Quibi released seven new shows and “chapterized” movies, with three episodes of each available.
Those include Antoine Fuqua’s “#FreeRayshawn” starring Laurence Fishburne and Stephan James; “50 States of Fright” from Sam Raimi starring Rachel Brosnahan and Travis Fimmel; “The Stranger” from Veena Sud; and comedy “Agua Donkeys” from Funny or Die. New unscripted series include: “Elba vs. Block” starring Idris Elba and stunt driver Ken Block; “Fight Like a Girl” starring the WWE Superstars; and “Let’s Roll” with Tony Greenhand.
Quibi’s launch lineup of 50 shows included “Judge Judy”-style show “Chrissy’s Court” starring Chrissy Teigen; drama “Survive” starring Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins; thriller “Most Dangerous Game” starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; a reboot of “Punk’d” hosted by Chance the Rapper; and money-giveaway reality show “Thanks a Million” from Jennifer Lopez.
Pictured above: Quibi’s “Elba vs. Block”