Quibi has caved.
When Jeffrey Katzenberg’s shortform video service launched April 6, it was greeted by one major complaint from users:
Watched a few episodes of stuff on Quibi and while I love the quality of the content and the responsive video, there’s no way to screen mirror. How are couples/families supposed to watch anything together??
— Steve Retka (@steveretka) April 6, 2020
First #Quibi complaint: You can’t Airplay mirror your phone to your TV. It just shows a weird, buggy, static image. YO @Quibi! I know you’re weirdly obsessed with being mobile, but I’m sitting on a couch with a 75” TV in front of me. How about the OPTION of using it? pic.twitter.com/NzSz6Ura3m
— Luke Watson (@LukeWatsonNYC) April 6, 2020
The service had entirely shut off screen mirroring capabilities, blocking users from watching Quibi content on anything but their smartphones. Prior to launch, Katzenberg explained Quibi had decided to cut mirroring because it “wants to do one thing which no one else is doing and see if we can do it really great.” He and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman had also reiterated multiple times that they are not positioning Quibi as a competitor for streaming services frequently watched on TVs, like Netflix and Hulu.
But now Quibi is giving the people what they want: It’s fast-tracking development of a casting function, and plans to add that to its app sometime in May, Variety reports. We don’t know if the casting feature will allow viewers to use Quibi’s Turnstyle feature, which seamlessly flips content from horizontal to vertical and back anytime they turn their phone, or if content will simply cast to fit a TV display.
In addition to (maybe) pacifying cast-hungry viewers, Quibi told Reuters it’s now up to 2.7 million downloads across the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The company didn’t disclose how many of those downloads have turned into subscribers paying $5 (with ads) or $8 (ad-free) per month–and likely won’t have any kind of conversion rate until July, when the first users will begin to age out of its unusually long 90-day free trial.
Katzenberg did tell Reuters the number of downloads is “encouraging” for a new streaming service not attached to a well-known brand. Quibi has taken in nearly $2 billion in funding from investors including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Alibaba.
“Under the circumstances, launching a new business into the tsunami of a pandemic, we actually have had a very, very good launch,” Katzenberg said.
Quibi also did not offer any hard viewership metrics, but did say which five shows and which five Daily Essentials (five-to-six-minute news, entertainment, and lifestyle installments) have been the most watched since launch.
Most-Watched Shows Thus Far
- Most Dangerous Game
- Chrissy’s Court
Most-Watched Daily Essentials Thus Far
- Around the World, BBC News
- No Filter, TMZ
- The Rachel Hollis Show
- The Report, NBC News
- Sexology with Shan