San Francisco (AFP)

Quibi, the video "bite-sized" platform, was officially launched in the United States and Canada on Monday, despite the Covid-19 pandemic which confined half of humans, already saturated with video and other entertainment, to their homes. screens.

The new streaming service intends to shake up the filmed content industry, with original Hollywood-quality 10-minute programs, delivered using technology entirely designed for smartphones and mobility.

But after months of marketing campaign to arouse public interest, Quibi takes the plunge in a radically different context from that in which it was designed.

"We are living in unprecedented times," said Rob Post, chief technology officer of the platform, in an interview with AFP.

"We are doing everything we can to adapt to the changing world," he added. "Telling stories seems more important than ever today."

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the founder of Quibi, had imagined users who would watch short videos on public transport or during a break at the office.

With measures of confinement and social distancing, the platform must ultimately attract sedentary audiences.

"The positive (for Quibi) is that we are already chaining streaming content. Having more choices is not a bad thing," said Carolina Milanesi, analyst at Creative Strategies. "On the other hand we no longer consume any video in + snack +".

She believes that the new platform could still appeal to the youngest, fans of entertainment on their phone wherever they are.

Quibi will however find itself in competition with YouTube, TikTok or Instagram, where we can already watch, free of charge, short videos, made by amateurs or professionals.

The subscription to the platform costs $ 8 per month without advertising, and $ 5 with (up to 2.5 minutes of ads per hour of content).

- In the palm of your hand -

To distinguish himself from free services, Mr. Katzenberg bet on quality: comedies, documentaries, sports and news produced by the biggest names in Hollywood.

About fifty programs are available right away, and new content must be added every day.

Technologically, the app has been envisioned "specially for the palm of your hand," says Tom Conrad, product manager.

If we tilt the smartphone from horizontal to vertical, and vice versa, the image adapts to the new format.

The personal accounts are personalized according to the user's tastes. The platform is also supposed to take into account the geolocation and the time it is. And all content can be downloaded via wifi for later viewing.

Quibi employees have been working from home for about three weeks to bring the finishing touches.

"It was really incredible to see how the Quibi team continued to invest in the project despite everything," enthuses Tom Conrad.

Quibi joined a sector long dominated by Netflix, and joined in particular by Disney + and Apple TV + last November. This spring, HBO Max (AT&T) and Peacock (Comcast) must also join the dance.

Some of these platforms spend billions of dollars each year to produce original content and encourage viewers to abandon their expensive cable subscriptions in favor of video on demand.

© 2020 AFP