Phone streaming app Quibi launches amid coronavirus pandemic

At a time when so much of show business is closed down, executives in Hollywood and Silicon Valley are launching a new video service.

Quibi is short for Quick Bites, and It's entertainment for your smart phone featuring original content developed just for Quibi.

Projects like "Survive," feature big stars like Sophie Turners from "Game of Thrones."

"We're telling two-hour stories in chapters that are 8 to 10 minutes long," said Hollywood veteran Jeff Katzenberg, who started the venture with tech executive Meg Whitman.

They promise a wide variety of programming, including reality shows featuring the likes of LeBron James.

Another called "Thanks a Million" has celebrities giving money away to worthy individuals.

All of this was planned before COVID-19 hit, and Quibi's founders thought about delaying the launch but instead decided to press on and give Quibi away free for three months.

"I come from that school that adversity is the mother of invention," Katzenberg said. "People are spending way more time on their phones, and we're going to give them something on their phones they've never seen before."

It's a big bet. The total amount of financing raised for this phone app is $1.8 billion, more than $1 billion just for programming at a time when the pandemic has made the launch a lot more difficult.

"This was an app meant to be viewed on the go, when you're out in the world, and you got 10 minutes here or there," said Natalie Jarvey, digital editor of The Hollywood Reporter. "People aren't out in the world right now."

Video streaming increased by 80% in the first few weeks since people were ordered to stay home, and that gives hope to Katzenberg.

"We are a great diversion," he said. "We are something that can lift people's spirits, and that is what I hope Quibi does. I hope we actually give people a moment of happiness."
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