T-Mobile Offers Free Subscription to New Streamer Quibi

Deal could help the short-form video service scale up quickly

Some T-Mobile customers will receive a free subscription to Quibi's ad-supported tier, which costs $4.99 per month. Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Key insights:

Certain T-Mobile customers will get a free yearlong subscription to Quibi, the companies said Thursday, in a move that should boost early users of the ambitious streaming service debuting April 6 in a crowded streaming market.

Under the deal, T-Mobile customers who have two or more voice lines with T-Mobile will get a free yearlong subscription to Quibi’s ad-supported tier, which normally will cost $4.99 each month (the ad-free version is $7.99). Interested T-Mobile customers can sign up between April 2 and July 7 to get the offering added to their plan for no additional cost for the first year.

“T-Mobile customers have always been ahead of the curve—streaming more data, watching more mobile video—so when we first heard about Quibi, we knew our customers would love it,” Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s newly named president and CEO, said in a statement. “And, with more of us staying home right now, Quibi’s never been more needed. It comes on the scene with a totally different experience, made for mobile, quick to watch and as entertaining as anything you’ve ever seen!”

The deal is just the latest in a number of partnerships between streamers and telco companies to help streaming services scale up fast while giving their partners the chance to differentiate their services in a saturated market. A similar recent deal in which Verizon offered some customers a free year of Disney+ brought in more than 5 million people to the streaming service, or roughly 20% of Disney+’s last reported 28.6 million subscribers.

NBCUniversal chairman Steve Burke, while talking in January about his company’s upcoming streaming service Peacock, called the wireless provider partnership strategy a “very attractive model” that NBCU might also pursue.

T-Mobile has long lined up special deals and freebies to entice customers to use its service, and the telco already offers its customers a free Netflix subscription bundled into a T-Mobile monthly bill. However, T-Mobile customers will not necessarily get Quibi for free forever: After a full year, those customers will need to choose between keeping a free Quibi subscription or a free Netflix subscription, the company said.

Quibi will debut on Monday with a number of star-studded reality and fiction series, all aimed at attracting younger viewers who are used to watching shorter-form programming on the go. Episodes will clock in at under 10 minutes, and the service’s ad-supported tier will include non-skippable preroll ads that will be no longer than 15 seconds long. Quibi is also offering customers the ability to watch ad-free for $7.99, but CEO Meg Whitman has said that she expects about 70% of viewers to choose the cheaper ad-supported tier.

The company has emphasized that its shows will stand out among short-form content found on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube because they are professionally produced by major Hollywood talent. Quibi has about 175 original series in the works and plans to release about 8,500 episodes in the next 12 months, it said earlier this year; many of those episodes, including a Punk’d revival hosted by musician Chance the Rapper and news updates from broadcasters like BBC and CBS, will be released daily.

The streamer’s programming lineup and brand-safe and mobile-driven pitch has already attracted interest from major advertisers, including AbInBev, Google, PepsiCo and P&G. In October, Quibi said that it had entirely sold out its first-year ad inventory, totaling $150 million.

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.