This April, Quibi, a unique streaming service launched. All of it’s content is designed to be “bitesized” around 10 minutes or less. Perfect for watching on a lunch break or on the tube. With some big names involved like Spielberg, Del Toro and Jason Blum involved, it seemed like it had potential to get to the big leagues. So why isn’t it?
Quibi launched right in the middle of the global pandemic when everyone had free time on their hands. With everyone stuck inside, they need longer series to keep invested in, rather than 10 minute long episodes. It is also only available in the US and Canada, although that wasn’t really an issue for Disney+. While it does seem that the release couldn’t really have come at a worse time, there are likely other factors.
Try before you buy
Like most streaming services, Quibi is a paid service. While it does offer a 14-day free trial, it previously offered a 90 day when it first launched. The 90-day trial is a better representation of Quibi, which adds new content weekly. After the two week trial, there are two payment options, a $4.99 which is slightly cheaper than most streaming services but features ads. The other option removes the ads for $7.99. Most paid-for streaming services do not feature ads, with Netflix offering several plans based on how many people use the account.
Another problem unique to Quibi is its content. Because of the “bite-sized” nature of its content, it doesn’t have any existing content to tempt viewers. Whereas Netflix had the likes of Breaking Bad, and Disney has its vast library. Quibi only has original content which can be much harder to sell, especially when you only have 15 minutes of a show. While it might have some top talent involved, it’s hard to get people invested in a show that only has one 15 minute long episode.
(Don’t) Tell your friends
One of the big reasons Netflix gets shows to go viral is because it actively starts conversations. When new shows like Tiger King or Bird Box are released, the twitter account engages with it. By actively encouraging discussion and showing clips or sharing memes, Netflix helps build the conversation around its shows. By contrast, Quibi does not even allow users to take a screenshot whilst in the app, and no sharing onto social media, making it hard to grow buzz for a series without getting people to sign up for it and watch it themselves with little to no context.
Another issue is that Quibi is mobile-only, with no option to watch on a computer or cast to a TV. This has the unfortunate side effect of making it difficult for more than one person to watch any content on there. Watching a funny Youtube clip on a mate’s phone might be good at school, but it doesn’t really work in this context.
Where does Quibi fit in?
In a world where anyone can create short content and upload it to the internet on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, a paid service seems odd. While it has the benefit of big names, most of them are active on other platforms and have other much more exciting projects planned. Actors like Jack Black and Will Smith have their own YouTube channels, which viewers can watch for free, so why sign up for Quibi?
While the actual content on Quibi isn’t the issue, some of the more weird and high concept shows are perfect for the platform. However, a lot of the shows could go onto YouTube, which already has it’s own premium option. Also, YouTube already has access to new content it also allows other benefits.
While Quibi is an interesting idea, it appears that it just doesn’t have enough to make it stand out from existing platforms, it’s a combination of Netflix and YouTube which is interesting, but those platforms offer different things for a reason. Many of the shows on Quibi are well funded and produced, but seems like a lot of money to throw at shows that total little over 2 hours when finished. It still has a chance to recover and be successful, but only time will tell if that happens.
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