by Trey Arline
It is perfectly fine to ask one or two questions about Quibi: either “what is Quibi” or “how do I make their Youtube ads stop?”
The new streaming service boasts some impressive leaders and money. Founded by Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Disney exec Meg Whitman, Quibi is focused on providing quickly consumed high-quality video content on the go.
The platform’s content is not slouching with star power either. Liam Hemsworth, Christoph Waltz, Anna Kendrick, Sophie Turner, Chrissy Teigan, and Laurence Fishburne are just some of the stars gracing the screen of this service. Exclusively for mobile viewing, Quibi is meant to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ with over $1 billion invested in its television and film content.
However, despite the bombardment of ads on every media platform known to man, Quibi is failing to launch at a spectacular rate. It fell out of the top 100 downloads a week after release and its base has shrunk significantly. 1.3 million subs would be an impressive sub count, but this is merely a fraction of what investors were hoping for, and there does not seem to be a turn-around for it coming anytime soon.
So why has Quibi failed to get a spark? For starters, the content is forgettable. It is a dose of either average or flat-out terrible. Dummy, the aformentioned Anna Kendrick series, is a gross miscalculation on feminism and the legitimacy of Anna Kendrick’s talent as a comedic actress. Shows like The Most Dangerous Game or Survive have their momentum killed by the 10-minute bite format.
The entire platform works against itself and what kind of content could be satisfying to the average viewer. The app would not let you share any videos to other platforms until earlier in April, which capped the ability to bring in new viewers and the ability for the platform to have a viral hit.
One excuse being used by Katzenberg is that the coronavirus pandemic made its “mobile storytelling” appeal obsolete when being mobile stopped being an option for most Americans months ago. But the writing was on the wall even before COVID-19 happened. When you’re flooding the waves with what your advertising, it is usually a sign that it may be hurting. When your streaming platform is offering a 90 day (!!!!!!) free trial, that’s when the product is getting desperate.
The content its bringing back aren’t exactly turning heads either. The reboot of Punk’d with Chance the Rapper has not exactly been the most widely talked about nostalgia bomb people were hoping for or hearing about, especially since the celebrities involved can’t even share the pranks they fell for. And honestly, as much as I love this cult classic, who was asking for a Reno 9/11! reboot in 2020?
This is not to say that the service is D.O.A.! Quibi could still work. Its idea is great, the app is easily accessible and there is no hassle in actually using the product. But it is coming much later in the game and needs to really make an impression if it wants to see the next year. Quibi may need its own “Tiger King” to keep folks glued to their phone screens but until it keeps with the times, this is going to be one app that people scroll by before it ever gets its wings.