Quibi is a streaming service that was launched on April 6th of this year, to be the “in-between” market of movies and binge shows. Quibi specializes in “short burst” content, hence the name stemming from “quick bite.” What makes Quibi different than its competitors is that it is only available on cell phones.
Quibi hosts three different types of formats: marquee scripted titles, also known as “Movies in Chapters,” which are seasons divided up into twelve to fourteen daily episodes with one released every two weeks. Second is the unscripted titles such as reality and competition shows as well as documentaries. The last is called “Daily Essentials,” which consists of short news bites, entertainment, and lifestyle content. NBC News, the BBC, Canada’s CTV, and Telemundo will assist on the news front. While the Dodo, E!, and TMZ will offer daily lifestyle and pop culture stories. In regards to the latter two formats, Quibi investors like Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Disney, BBC Studios, MGM, and Lionsgate will surely provide quality content. Let’s not forget Quibi’s founder, Katzenberg, was one of the founders of Dreamworks and the former chairman of Disney.
Katzenberg has been at the helm of Quibi’s launch; “I don’t think of this as revolutionary as much as it’s evolutionary, in that you’re combining together two test forms of film narrative. He claims Quibi is “setting out to do the next form of film narrative – the convergence of (film and television) together.” The idea is to condense the narrative into short bursts of seven to ten minutes designed to be watched on one’s phone. The other significant innovation with Quibi is it’s “turnstyle mode,” where the content can differ depending on viewing it in landscape or portrait. Specifically, this interactive feature has enabled directors and producers such as Steven Spielberg to innovate in creative ways.
The service is primarily aimed at millennials, Gen Z, as well as younger Gen X. Quibi claimed to Vulture its platform is for 18-to-44-year-olds, with a “very, very targeted” audience at 25-to-35 millennials. More specifically, it is aiming for a “multicultural” and “diverse millennial audience.” I am not surprised I haven’t heard of Quibi; I am not “diverse” enough. Quibi has even stated they are not promoting family material. That’s no surprise; traditionalism isn’t a proponent of Quibi’s targeted group. A lot of the celebrities participating in this service aren’t ones I’d spend time watching. Plus, why pay for a tiered service with one providing an essentially an ad-blocker? Then again, my mind can’t wrap about the TikTok phenom, so I don’t believe people of my intellectual facilities and ideology would be keen to fork over the five dollars a month.
Regarding Quibi’s content, it doesn’t need to be good. Quibi has been explicit about what their content is meant for – the “in-between” moments. It’s for the young millennial or Gen Z that is waiting for his or her bus, train, or subway stop. Or perhaps just when you’re waiting for your favorite TV show to pop on. I believe its strongest competitor is YouTube. YouTube’s growth, especially during COVID-19, has reached its peak, so much so that they have made the default resolution as low as possible to conserve bandwidth. YouTube’s content isn’t so much “commercial,” though, which makes it not a direct competitor to Quibi. As it stands right now, Quibi is in a market of its own, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Quibi-like services emerge.
Quibi release during the pandemic hasn’t hurt it either. If anything, it has given Quibi a bit of a boast. In its first week, Quibi hit over 1.7 million downloads. Entertainment is almost a necessity at this point in time. However, with Comcast and Verizon providing free films and channels, a paid service with ads doesn’t sound too friendly. Quibi has allowed studios to become investors, giving them the incentive to create entertaining projects. The fact that Quibi is allowing the intellectual property to the owners and creators of their own IP is significant. Exclusivity rights cease after seven years, so owners and creators will be more driven through a profitable push for a better product.
Recently, reports surfaced showing that Quibi users’ email addresses were leaked through third-party advertisers, allowing them to track users and target them with ads. Quibi claimed to Digital Trends that “Data protection is essential to Quibi and the security of user information is of the highest priority.” A spokesman also stated that “the moment the issue on our webpages was revealed to our security and engineering team, we fixed it immediately.” To an extent, this is understandable, especially for a new company. As Dr. Noah Johnson, co-founder and chief technology officer of data security startup Dasera says, “When thousands of insiders – analysts, data scientists, contractors – are using consumer data daily, there is always the chance that one instance of carelessness or malice can cause users to lose trust with your brand.”
Regarding Katzenberg’s appearance on The Today Show, Katzenberg backpedaled a bit on the main focus of Quibi. He focused more on the tech behind it. To make watching on cell phones “beautiful.” I don’t believe he used the correct word, immersive would have been more fitting. He demonstrated “turnstyle mode,” and it seemed not only to be immersive but practical for cell phone users. Katzenberg also dove into Spielberg’s new show on Quibi, but it sounded very Orwellian. “Our phone knows where we are, what time of day it is, and when the sun will set to the minute.” That’s a little off-putting to say, especially after their “data breach.” Nonetheless, some will neglect those comments, the same who relinquished their privacy to TikTok.