Is Quibi's Short-Form Mobile Video What Wireless Cos. Want?

Premium short-form video on the go for mobile devices? Will that pull in viewers akin to Fox’s “Empire,” NBC’s “This is Us" or ABC's “Gray’s Anatomy”?

Better still, what financial model will wireless companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon want when partnering with a Netflix, ABC or other content provider? Something that could sell sensitively priced and consumer-fluid wireless phone communication services.

Quibi, the new mobile-centric video service from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, two high-profile entertainment and technology executives, believe they have an answer: short-form premium video.

It comes down to distribution -- and incentives. T-Mobile already has a deal offering free Netflix service for subscribers who sign up for its family mobile plan. AT&T does a similar deal for its own HBO premium TV service.



Content promotions seem great. But are we sure wireless phone services are the right way to go for long-form content -- half-hour or hour-long TV shows on a mobile device?

Of course, that’s not the whole answer. T-Mobile plans let you download Netflix episodes on two of the four major consumer devices: laptop, TV, phones and tablets.

We can be sure much of that long-form viewing still airs on a traditional TV screen. But what about other video content?

Quibi's premise is that its content will be mobile-centric -- five-minute to 10-minute bits of content. While waiting on a line at Starbucks or a grocery store, consumers will want a high-quality short-video vacation.

At a recent AT&T event in Santa Barbara, California, Katzenberg said this makes sense, even in a world of big TV shows. That’s because TV producers typically break up hour-long dramas into five minute to 10 minute segments for TV ad breaks.

But the key question is: How do you define the word "premium" when it comes to short-form premium video content? Consumers probably still equate short-form video with skateboard mishaps and cat-and-dog antics.

Katzenberg says there is room for better material. For that, you hire name talent, behind and in-front of the camera. He says many producers/actors are interested. Plus, Quibi has scores of major media investor-backing, raising over a $1 billion in funding.

Back to those wireless companies, those key distributors. Will any of these content deals have specific deal points which link to specific sales outcomes? T-Mobile has one. It pays Netflix a fee for every subscriber that signs up for the Netflix promotion.

That’s a nice lead generator for T-Mobile. But it has the powerful Netflix name attached. Can Quibi make the steep climb to big brand must-have awareness?

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