Quibi's launch offerings seemed disposable, but maybe that's the point.


With Quibi, television has finally come to the smallest screen. It has long been possible to watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or any other streaming video service on a smartphone. But the programs on those platforms were designed to be watched on a big TV screen.

Quibi was built with a different vision of the viewing experience. The name was derived from the words "quick bites," and for a few dollars a month, that's what it serves. Episodes are capped at 10 minutes. Some run as few as five. Content is viewable exclusively on phones and tablets, and visuals switch seamlessly between vertical and horizontal screen orientations. Quibi was made for a mobile world.

Although I didn't love any of the half-dozen shows I sampled, the format made it stand out from the rest of the streaming pack. Quibi's launch offerings seemed disposable, but maybe that's the point. From comic books to pulp novels, popular storytellers have long found success in cheap, rapidly produced entertainments that are easy to consume and easy to discard. Most have been forgotten, but a TV series doesn't have to be high art to be worthwhile, especially when it asks for barely more time than it takes to microwave a Hot Pocket. Sometimes there's value in being inessential.

Arguably, Quibi's true competitors aren't Netflix and Hulu but TikTok and YouTube, which offer a near-infinite amount of free-to-watch video content. The success of those sites, and the opportunities for rapid experimentation they afford, suggest this format is essential in its own way.

NEXT: Brickbat: Time Off

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  2. I was going to say that it just sounds like youtube but with a stronger focus on "professional" content from what will ultimately be big media.
    I don't really like 10 minute shorts. Most of the time they tell the simplest and stupidest stories. I also question who is the target audience. My experience is that the people who want to watch videos on their phones tend to enjoy the mindless content of tictoc with an attention span between 6 seconds and 3 minutes

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    2. That's the thing -- watching any but short videos on phones is not my cup of tea. I can't imagine trying to watch even a 5 minute video on such a small screen.

    3. There are a lot of very good short videos out there. Not saying that Quibi puts out good videos, I doubt it. But the length of the video is not a measure of its quality. And no, that's not a sexual reference.

      One very good example is The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Five short stories, each standalone, and each and excellent story. Originally shown as standalone episodes. But I think stories too deep for the target audience of Quibi.

      The problem of Quibi I think it's it focus on the phone as the medium. My guess is that they're going after the mass transit commuter with eyeballs waiting to be filled before they arrive at their stop. And the very limited format of the phone screen. Sure it's 4k content, but it's still on a 4" screen. That's a smaller screen than even a budget airline in-flight screen.

      1. Good example. Not saying it can't be done, but that fictional AV entertainment tends to take a bit longer to flesh out a satisfying story. The kind of content in that time range that I enjoy can already be found on YouTube

  3. The difference between Quibi and YouTube is that the latter has "authentic" content. I don't mean that in a hipster way, I mean that in the sense that the content was created by real people for themselves to share. A lot of them make they're living at it, so it's not about being amateur.

    Quibi just goes and hires a writer to make a script, then hires actors to portray a scene, and then it's marketed, and it's all very Hollywood. On the other hand even the really good short stories one can sometimes find on YouTube are from film students and very very small productions.

    My friend started up a series of videos during shutdown. Not very professional, but they're well done. That they don't get a huge amount of reviews is fine, that wasn't their purpose. And there are series that I frequently watch that come from bigger name houses, but they're meant to be side pieces, not the main stream stuff that a director of programming has to approve.

    Now I could be totally unfair to Quibi. After all I haven't shelled over the bucks to watch anything on it. But I don't see why it even needs to exist when there are other digital outlets for short pieces. Hell, even Netflix and Amazon have short pieces.

    Is it only because they are formatted for phones? Then count me out because I'm not their target audience. being older than 25 years of age my eyes have no interest in trying to see 4k video on a 4" screen.

  4. Hi,
    I had no idea about Quibi.
    This is really very informative article.
    Very thanks for share.
    We've also written a post about Putlocker where you can watch TV Shows, Movies, etc.

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