T-Mobile will become the official wireless partner for Quibi, a mobile content service planned by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Quibi will launch next April, intending to provide short, bite-sized content (10 minutes or less) aimed at mobile customers who might not want to hang around for full-length programs.
John Legere, T-Mobile’s CEO, confirmed the association in a tweet. “The future of mobile-first video content is in good hands with @Quibi... and the future of high quality video streaming is in good hands on @T-Mobile’s network... so we teamed up!!” Legere wrote. The deal was first reported by Variety.
T-Mobile’s partnership will probably feature discounts to its 83 million subscribers (and millions more, if its merger with Sprint happens). But smartphone users who choose Verizon, AT&T and other wireless providers will also be able to subscribe to Quibi, too.
That short-form idea was tried before by Go90, a similar service started by Verizon. It lasted from 2015 to 2018, and eventually acquired a rival, Vessel, started by former Hulu executive Jason Kilar, that also failed.
AT&T wireless, whose parent also owns DirecTV, HBO and other content companies, already offers deals to its subscribers.
The idea there could be an audience for content service specifically aimed at mobile audiences, besides the consumer-generated content of YouTube, has great by-the-numbers appeal.
A Nielsen study reported in 2018 that young adults, 18-34, spend 43% of their time consuming media on digital platforms, and 29% of their time spent with media coming from apps/web on a smartphone.
Qubi is promising to attract top-notch producers and actors, and has content deals with the major TV networks including ESPN. It says it has pre-sold $100 million in advertising for the service, which will cost $5 a month, or $8 for an ad-free version.
“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,” said Meg Whitman, Quibi’s CEO, in a statement. Earlier, she told Variety that Quibi has $1.1 billion in programming commitments, and 7,000 pieces of content in the pipeline for its first year.
Quibi’s founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg is a former CEO of The Walt Disney Co, and a founder of Dreamworks SKG.