Meg Whitman, shown at a January speech in Las Vegas, touted Quibi's 1.7 million downloads Monday despite it being well short of the streaming debut of rival Disney+. Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo
April 13 (UPI) -- The new mobile streaming service Quibi was downloaded 1.7 million times in its first week, during the coronavirus shutdown, its chief executive officer Meg Whitman said Monday.
Whitman, best known as the former CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard, said the downloads beat expectations, despite being a fraction of the more than 10 million subscribers pulled in by Disney+ in its first week. Some questioned if the Jeffrey Katzenberg-created service would survive while many are sheltered in their homes next to their televisions.
"It turns out people have in-between moments at home," Whitman told CNBC. "We don't actually think it hurt us."
The streaming service stands out from others because it's designed for mobile devices and will show original content only. That content will be aired in short-form, usually in 10-minute chunks, meant to be watched while users are out and about.
Adam Blacker, vice president of insights and global alliances for Apptopia, said that while it may not be fair to compare Quibi with Disney+ because their content is so radically different, those comparisons will still be made because of Quibi's marketing hype and big names connected with it.
"Quibi was likely hoping for a better launch," Blacker said in his blog. "The highest it hit on the U.S. App Store Top Charts was No. 4 overall on launch day. It's no secret that when you're launching a big app like this, you expect to hit the No. 1 overall spot. The coronavirus has definitely had an impact."
Quibi, which is short for "quick bites," has concentrated its subscription efforts in North America, even though it is available worldwide. So far, 87 percent of the downloads have come from the United States.
Some of Quibi shows come with plenty of star power, including Sophie Turner, of Game of Thrones, The Matrix's Laurence Fishburne, Thor's Idris Elba, Hunger Games' Liam Hemsworth and musician Chance the Rapper.