Quibi Launches In Middle Of Pandemic, But Long-Term Prospects Are Solid

A virus with no promise of a near-term vaccine, or even a treatment, messes up everything. Its repercussions even extend to promising new premium video platforms.

This is Quibi's starting place.

But here’s a silver lining. A UBS research study -- looking further out beyond near-term COVID-19 concerns -- shows a steady upside.

A study of 40 advertising executives said over the next 24 months around 58% of advertisers expect to shift ad dollars to digital platforms from legacy TV networks/stations.

UBS analyst John Hodulik says: “Survey respondents appear more receptive to shifting budgets to other forms of online video, perhaps due to upcoming ad-supported DTC launches, including Comcast's Peacock or Quibi [emphasis added].”



That’s the long view.

Right now, legacy TV and cable networks -- including live news programming -- and TV stations and other platforms are seeing some rare growing usage and viewership, due to COVID-19 issues.

Behaviorally -- with more workers and others abiding with stay-at-home orders -- this means lots of media viewers sticking with traditional TV networks and stations.

Long term, maybe there is something else going on: Major TV marketers are already positioning themselves for the future. Ten major TV and advertising marketers -- Progressive, Discover, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, AB InBev, Taco Bell, Pepsi, T-Mobile, Google and Walmart -- have signed onto Quibi with the promise to spend $150 million in advertising.

The near-term problem runs smack into Quibi’s original premise -- a mobile-first, short-duration premium video in which a typical TV episode is 10-minute or so in length. The initial belief is that the Quibi user-- standing for ‘quick bites’ -- would be a consumer waiting in a doctor’s office, on line at a bank, or a grocery store.

Now? Quibi executives believes its platform could be an outlet for nervous and tense at-home workers/students looking for a quick 10-minute TV-episode escape.

That may be a tough premise.

Not just in the hopes of changing consumers media habits in the coming weeks, but because of hard-pressed consumer spending habits. Do consumers really need to spend more money for another premium video service, even with Quibi's low $4.99 month price tag?

T-Mobile’s promotion with Quibi -- giving many of its millions of mobile subscribers a free initial year of the service -- will help.

The bottom line will be what kind of usage it will get in the coming weeks and months. Right now, it's got its work cut out.

Quibi has spent $9 million in national TV ads over the last two weeks (March 23 to April 5), and $28.8 million since the beginning of the year, according to But a Morning Consult/Hollywood Reporter survey, March 19-21, found 68% of respondents have never heard of Quibi.

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