Bell grows digital footprint with exclusive Quibi partnership

As part of the multi-faceted deal, CTV News and TSN will produce daily content for the mobile-first digital service, set to launch next month.
Mirko Bibic, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Randy Lennox

Bell has inked an exclusive partnership to produce daily news content for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s soon-to-launch Quibi streaming service.

Under the agreement, CTV News and TSN will exclusively provide news and sports content for the mobile-first platform’s Daily Essentials section.

The daily news show from CTV News will stream twice a day (morning and evening) from Monday to Friday, and on mornings on the weekends. Meanwhile, the TSN sports information update show will stream every morning, seven days a week. Additional details on the shows will be announced in due course.

As part of the multi-faceted agreement, Bell has also signed on as the exclusive marketing partner for Quibi.

The announcement comes a month ahead of Quibi’s eagerly awaited rollout across North America. Launching April 6, the subscription platform will have an ad-free tier ($9.99 a month) and an ad-supported tier ($6.99). The service is expected to roll out internationally later in the year, though specific launch dates have not yet been announced.

Bell Media president Randy Lennox told Playback Daily the partnership allows the company to expand its digital footprint at the same time as advancing its overall strategy to “marry the tech and content worlds.” Lennox was in L.A. yesterday with BCE and Bell Canada president and CEO Mirko Bibic, who took part in an interview with Quibi founder Katzenberg. The interview will air this afternoon on BNN Bloomberg.

“It’s salient to mention that this is an overall Bell initiative,” added Lennox. “All departments are involved from outdoor media, to Bell Mobility, to Bell Media, which speaks volumes about our overall commitment to this partnership.”

Quibi founders Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have been busy commissioning a raft of shows as the service inches closer to launch in April. Among those are projects from the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg and Sam Raimi, as well as a remake of the 2003 rom-com How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. On the Canadian side, a spin-off of the Canadian feature Code 8 is in the works at Quibi. The project, first unveiled in December, is directed by Jeff Chan and co-written by Chan and Chris Paré.

Earlier this week, Quibi revealed it had raised an additional US$750 million in financing from a range of studios, tech companies, financial firms and strategic partners. That’s in addition to the US1 billion it raised in 2018. The platform plans to release 175 original shows during its first year.

Bell Media and its parent company Bell recently announced a deal of a different kind with another soon-to-launch streaming entity, HBO Max. Under that long-term deal, Bell Media acquired the exclusive rights to programming from the upcoming streaming service, with HBO Max programming set to be offered within Bell Media’s Crave SVOD service, as well as across its CTV-branded assets. It should be noted that Quibi programming will not be integrated within Crave, and Quibi will be offered as a separate, direct-to-consumer offering in Canada.