Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Quibi: What is the new streaming app being touted by Reese Witherspoon?

The 'mobile-first' platform features shows that are all less than 10 minutes long

Quibi has got several Hollywood names on board, such as Anna Kendrick, Sophie Turner, Liam Hemsworth, Chrissy Teigen and Chance the Rapper. AP
Quibi has got several Hollywood names on board, such as Anna Kendrick, Sophie Turner, Liam Hemsworth, Chrissy Teigen and Chance the Rapper. AP

A much-anticipated new streaming service has just launched, with a pretty significant twist: all of its shows are less than 10 minutes long.

Quibi is a mobile-first streaming service, meaning its content is designed to be watched on mobile phones. A built-in feature called Turnstile allows the video to stay full screen in both portrait and landscape modes. And it's already available in the UAE.

Positioned as a rival to industry juggernauts Netflix and YouTube, the service straddles the two platforms. Any content longer than 10 minutes, such as movies, are broken down into chunks.

Sound bizarre? Well, maybe, but it has certainly come armed with plenty of star power, as Hollywood superstars such as Jennifer Lopez, Idris Elba, Sophie Turner, Chrissy Teigen and Steven Spielberg are all involved in Quibi shows.

Reese Witherspoon announced the platform's launch on her own Instagram account, as she narrates new documentary show Fierce Queens, all about the females of the animal kingdom.

The service costs $4.99 (Dh18) a month with advertisements and $7.99 for ad-free viewing, although there is a 90-day free trial available in the US. It was expected to be rolled out to other countries in the coming weeks, but it appears to be working in the UAE now.

The company had raised $1.8 billion for the project, and stuck to its Monday, April 6 launch date, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Its chief executive Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg had intended for the platform with its bite-sized content to primarily target viewers wanting something to watch on their commute or during a short break. However, much of those activities are now less of a daily occurrence as countries around the world get used to a life lived primarily indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Katzenberg is a big name in Hollywood circles, having made a career as a high-powered producer with Walt Disney Studios, before leaving to found and become chief executive of DreamWorks Animation.

He's overseen the production of many of Hollywood's biggest outputs: The Lion King, Good Morning Vietnam, Star Trek, Shrek, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and plenty more.

Whitman currently serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble and Dropbox. She was previously the president and chief executive of Hewlett Packard.

Social media has not been particularly kind to the new platform, however. As well as a brief first day outage, many users have complained about the cost, while others lamented that they couldn't share what they were watching with housemates or partners.

Then there were those who complained about watching an entire TV show on a smartphone – which is essentially the whole point of the service.

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Read more:

Disney+ content is coming to the Middle East with OSN this April

From Nickelodeon cartoons to Emirates history: free resources for children in the UAE

15 shows, books and podcasts helping get us by while we're social distancing

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Updated: April 7, 2020 04:10 PM

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