Quibi Finally Adds Airplay Streaming Support For TV Viewing

Was there ever a new brand with worse timing than Quibi? Quibi, a mobile streaming platform dreamed up by Jeffrey Katzenberg and supported by dozens of high-profile stars and filmmakers, was supposed to be the next big thing — by making content much, much smaller. On paper, it's an interesting idea: a streaming platform for the commuter, for people to watch on the subway or in the office bathroom stall. But there's no way of knowing whether people would've gotten over the dumb name and latched onto Quibi's concept, because the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit. And suddenly, the commuters that Quibi was targeting as its key demographic were all stuck at home.

Understandably, subscribers would be frustrated when they opened up Quibi on their smartphones and found that it could not be played on their nice living room TVs, which are doing extra work during lockdown. It was just one more hit against Quibi, which disappointed with its originals shows and rollout and was unable to played on televisions upon launch. But Quibi is slowly grasping for relevance once again, by adding Airplay support to its app. Now it will be a fraction more watchable, at least, for iPhone users.

After a disappointing launch that could result in the loss of half a billion dollars this year, Quibi began the transition from mobile-only to TV viewing, fast-tracking the app's availability on TV casting devices such as Roku or Chromecast. The first phase of that transition to TV has apparently been rolled out, with Quibi adding Airplay streaming for iPhone users casting Quibi content from their phones to their televisions.

Chief Product Officer Tom Conrad announced the change on Twitter, "Sure we designed Quibi for on-the-go, but these days visiting the family room is like a day trip... so AirPlay support is live for iOS in Quibi 1.3." Conrad added that support for Chromecast streaming will arrive next month.

Making Quibi available to watch on TV was always part of the plan, according to co-creator Meg Whitman, but the pandemic has clearly accelerated those plans as the service's original billing as the "on-the-go" streaming app wasn't going to happen. But it's still unclear if this will be too little, too late, as many might have already dismissed Quibi after a lackluster rollout and a slate of poorly reviewed original titles. Maybe people don't actually want 5-10 minute episodes created by filmmakers who are used to working with a two-hour runtime. But perhaps with a bigger screen, those short episodes will at least look better.