Streaming service Quibi sells out of its $150M in first-year ad inventory


Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile-only streaming service Quibi hasn’t even launched, but it’s already sold out of its $150 million first-year advertising inventory, the company announced this morning. The service, which officially debuts in April 2020, added new advertisers Discover, General Mills, T-Mobile, and Taco Bell, who join Quibi’s existing lineup of ad partners, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, ABInBev, Walmart, Progressive, and Google.

In addition to being an advertiser, T-Mobile only days ago announced a partnership with Quibi, as well.

The streaming service had cited T-Mobile’s “impressive 5G roadmap” as one of the reasons it went for the deal, but T-Mobile’s advertising contribution probably didn’t hurt either.

For an entirely unseen product, it’s notable that Quibi is already sold out for year one. That speaks to its ability to sell brands on its core concept — a sort of Netflix for the mobile era, where higher-quality content is chopped up into smaller bites (or “quick bites”), and viewable no matter how you hold your phone.

Advertisers are offered either a 6, 10 or 15-second pre-roll spot before the Quibi content streams. And unlike on YouTube, where some of the ads can be skipped after a few seconds — or removed entirely by way of subscription — Quibi’s ads won’t have a “skip” button. Quibi also hints at a unique offering for advertisers, saying that it will be “experimenting with a number of other innovative ad formats.”

In addition, Quibi is tackling one of the issues advertisers have with YouTube, where a brand’s message is often run against extremist content. YouTube has tried to fix the problem with better controls, and brands have at times left YouTube. Some brands even got together to form a global alliance for “responsible media,” which basically means they’re ready to more formally fight this problem.

It’s no surprise, then, that these companies are willing to help boost a potential YouTube competitor — one which promises they won’t find their ad played ahead of child exploitation or white supremacist content, among other things — as has been the case on YouTube, at various points.

However, what may be most responsible for the early ad sales is Quibi’s founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg. He’s not someone the industry is willing to bet against at this point.

“We are seeing a tremendous response from advertising partners who recognize the value of Quibi’s premium, brand-safe, mobile platform that is focused on the highly-coveted millennial audience,” said Meg Whitman, CEO, Quibi. “The world-class brands that are partnering with us in advance of our launch is remarkable, and it speaks to the opportunity in front of us,” she said.

Quibi had announced in June it had already booked $100 million in ad sales with $50 million to go. But even if it hadn’t sold out, Quibi still would have been a go for launch — Quibi is backed by $1 billion in funding, and was reportedly going to double that.

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