Quibi: A Promising Start for the Newest Participant in the Streaming Wars
Quibi made a surprisingly early debut Sunday night, officially unveiling its product to the masses. The latest streamer to join the world of over-the-top television — or services that don't require a traditional cable subscription — Quibi might be the most ambitious one yet. As the name implies, Quibi is an amalgamation of "quick bites," something the platform says it will live and die by; if a show is ordered to series at Quibi, all episodes will be under 10 minutes.
Despite Quibi executives previously promising the service would look and feel different than other similar services, it's hard to shake the feeling of Snapchat and IGTV when consuming content on the app. Perhaps that's something that might just boil down to the vertical aspect of the programming, but it's hard the say the idea is hardly revolutionary.
When traversing the app, one of the first things I noticed — outside of the stellar UI design, that is — is the fact programming is available in both vertical and horizontal orientations. Though the vertical quick bites are something the company has proudly flaunted time and time again, there's a seamless transition to change between orientations that might be the brightest spot of the software so far. The responsiveness is very smooth and should please both who prefer a traditional widescreen experience over the vertical-ness of what social networks have brought forth in recent years.
I had previously mentioned the beautiful UI and yes, it's really something gorgeous from the moment you open the app. Everything is super clean and leads to incredible user experience, at least as of now. With just 24 programs or so available on the service at launch, it has yet to be seen what kind of algorithms are in place to pitch the best content to you first. As of now, if you start watching a series, it pops up under the 'For You' tab with a casual reminder for you to continue watching. It's here you can swipe through the shows you've started watching. Then, once you get to the end of that, that's where the algorithm's suggestions come into play. Again, no idea how accurate or interesting the algorithm will be, but hey — it's a start.
Contest-wise, the programming is exactly what was promised. Every episode (or quibi) is less than 10 minutes. For the most part, a lot of the content on the service right now appears to hover around the seven-minute mark. At launch, there's a fine mix of content on all sorts of the entertainment spectrum — you've got sitcoms with Will Forte's Flipped, game shows with Gayme Show!, and unscripted programming with something like Murder House Flip, a bizarre series that follows a crew as they renovating houses that were previously crime scenes.
If you have some time on your hands, you're going to burn through the content they have on the service really quick and that might be the biggest hurdle Quibi will have to overcome. It's been said Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meg Whitman, and company plan on spending north of $1 billion on original content for the service and hopefully more of that drops before too long. At the end of the day, it's a promising start for a company that gave us exactly what they promised. It's yet to be seen if somehow this particular format can somehow spawn the next Stranger Things or The Mandalorian but even then, everything is short enough that it's practically guilt-free programming.
Cover photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Quibi