Quibi, the beleaguered mobile-first streaming service teeming with talent but struggling to find a solid subscriber footing, has introduced a free, ad-supported tier to its Australian market — something the company arguably should have been doing all along.
Quibi officially launched in Australia and New Zealand on August 5. (Previously, Quibi users in these regions could only access the ad-free U.S. version of the app, the company told Gizmodo.) In the U.S., both of Quibi’s subscription options are paid, with the service charging $US5 ($7) per month for ad-supported content and $US8 ($11) per month to go ad-free.
In Australia, however, the company is offering a totally free, ad-supported version of the app. According to an email obtained by the Verge, Quibi is also halving the paid subscription cost for existing customers to $7, whereas the service previously charged $13 per month. (The company specified for its free tier that advertisements “play before episodes and do not interrupt watching.”)
When asked for comment about the decision to roll out this free version of its app in its Australian market and whether a similar model would be introduced in the U.S., the company would only say that it’s examining each individual market to inform the best launch strategy.
Meanwhile, Quibi is having trouble hanging onto subscribers in the U.S. after its attractive three-month, pre-launch trial ended. One of the reasons this may be the case is that everyone is at home right now and more likely to want to watch TV on the largest screens available to them (something the company acknowledged when it introduced TV casting post-launch). But another reason might simply be that there are so many services available — some of which people may already be paying for — with many of those services offering free tiers of their own.
Without any data immediately available to indicate whether a truly free tier for Quibi actually entices potential subscribers, it’s tough to say whether this will do anything to bolster its rocky position in the market right now. But given that it’s having a tough time convincing people to pay for its Emmy-nominated short-form content, at this point, it definitely seems like this is Quibi’s best option.