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How will short-form streaming service Quibi fare in the COVID-19 economy?

Rob Post, Quibi chief technology officer, talks about Quibi's "Turnstyle" technology for short-form video streaming for mobile devices at the Quibi keynote address, Jan. 8, 2020. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

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Another new streaming service launches today. Quibi, short for “Quick Bites,” is aimed at younger users. The content is all short videos designed to be watched on phone screens.

Quibi’s managed to attract A-list talent like Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon. But how will it fare trying to attract an audience, when the content is designed to be viewed on the go, and so many people are stuck at home?

Quibi’s early ads are reminders of what seems like a different time, touting the service’s snackable videos to watch while on public transit or waiting for a table at a restaurant.

Quibi raised $1.75 billion, and it’s led by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, former CEO of HP.

Whitman spoke to “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood earlier this year and explained the platform’s focus on short form video: “You’re picking up that phone a lot of different times, and the average session length is six minutes.”

So Quibi videos will be around that length, too. But the COVID-19 restrictions have changed habits, said Steve Nason, research director at Parks Associates.

“Consumers are captive right now, they’re in their homes,” Nason said.

And, he adds, video consumption of all types is skyrocketing. That means Quibi doesn’t just face competition from mobile platforms like TikTok and YouTube, but also from the likes of Hulu, Netflix and Disney Plus. And at $5 to $8 a month, Quibi would be one more subscription.

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