Quibi’s on trend content targets social media loving young people but the library is far from expansive. At launch, a lot of the content is bland and plain bad in places. There are one or two hidden gems, but nothing to suggest Quibi will disrupt the streaming market or justify its £7.99/m price
- 90-day free trial
- Vertical and horizontal framing
- Interesting new format
- Big stars signed up
- No TV app
- Quality not as good as rivals
- No localised content outside US
- Not great value for money right now
- Review Price: £7.99/m
- 90-day free trial
- Auto-rotation framing
Quibi is the latest streaming service that’s one of the more unorthodox out there. It’s solely for phones, with no TV app option.
The name Quibi, is short for ‘Quick Bites’, as every show on the platform is ten minutes or less.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder of Quibi, has aimed the service at 25-to-35-year-olds who consume content from the likes of Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok.
The result is a video service that feels like a mesh between a social media and streaming platform, at least in terms of its user interface and style.
Quibi design and format – Short-form video tailor-made for mobile
Aesthetically, the app looks nice and is intuitive to use. It’s easy to see how Quibi might suit the role its creators envisaged, entertaining those who prefer quick-fire content.
It’s a nice idea, but at this moment in time most people aren’t commuting. Also, I’m not sure it’s a role Quibi needs to fulfil. YouTube already accomplishes the same premise and if you want something with high-end production values on-the-go, there’s Netflix.
In fact, Netflix had already been moving towards short-form content with I Think You Should Leave and Love, Death and Robots. Quibi’s USP isn’t so unique.
There’s a conscious effort throughout the library to be on-trend. Wellness and lifestyle programming such as The Rachel Hollis Show and Sexology, attempt to tune into emergent trends and conversations. Meanwhile, You Ain’t Got These focuses on sneaker culture and drag performance documentary, Welcome to NightGowns, tries to mimic the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
There are also shows from LeBron James, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lopez. Top that off with cute dogs and True Crime content, and it look as if Quibi is ticking off a checklist to compile its library.
One aspect of Quibi that surprises is that it is resolutely for smartphones. There isn’t a Quibi app for TV nor is there even an option to stream to another device. If we were to find a silver lining, it’s that the Quibi phone experience is relatively seamless.
One reason for that seamlessness is that the content always fills the orientation of your phone, whether it’s portrait or landscape.
With Funny or Die comedy Flipped, Quibi shows off one of its best instances in aspect ratio changing. There’s a moment in the first episode where Jan (Will Forte) and Cricket (Kaitlin Olssen) sit at home on a sofa. In landscape they are sat next to one another in a traditional shot. Turn the screen to its vertical position and they’re displayed above each other, so you don’t miss out on their reactions. Be warned though, if you’re watching on a tablet the picture won’t fill the screen.
Quibi content – How much of Quibi’s content is worth watching?
Quibi showcases a wide variety of genres. At launch, it’s divided its sub-ten-minute shows into three categories: Unscripted and Documentaries, Movies in chapters and Daily Essentials. The latter focuses on news including a compressed version of BBC News to pop5, which offers the latest bites from the world of pop music.
One word of warning is that Quibi is currently very US-centric. While you’ll recognise some of the actors, it’s immediately apparent that its audience is principally the US. If Quibi grows we could see more diverse stories, as well as more languages, much as we saw from Netflix.
Here’s a short breakdown of the platform’s launch shows.
Liam Hemsworth stars in the Most Dangerous Game, a show that leans heavily on its mildly interesting premise. Diagnosed with cancer and desperate for cash, Dodge (Hemsworth), signs up to be part of a game where he is hunted across Detroit by hunters willing to pay thousands of dollars.
The set-up is fun enough, but every line of dialogue and twist is forgettable. Even Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz can’t shine.
One of Quibi’s better offerings is Survive. It’s a dark journey into the mind of Jane (Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner), who’s plagued by mental illness. The first two episodes make it seem the show will focus on Jane’s psychological troubles, however it abruptly turns into a survival thriller.
Turner carries Survive and it’s dark and entertaining for the most part. It’s one of Quibi’s best shows.
Will Arnett’s The Memory Hole takes viewers through some of the most cringeworthy pop-culture moments, from American footballers rapping to Diana Ross taking a penalty.
It’s a show that feels more like social media content and wouldn’t feel out of place on Twitter. It perfectly exemplifies the line Quibi is trying to walk between social content and streaming entertainment.
A daily narrated walk through picturesque settings. The Daily Chill has taken viewers across Malibu beach, and a trek across a Moroccan desert. It’s a show that tries so hard that these video tours feel pretentious.
When The Street Lights Go On is a high-school drama that kicks off with a gruesome double murder. In places, it’s one of Quibi’s best attempts, but the unsubtle writing and sketchy voice-over work hold the show back from becoming as enjoyable as it could be.
Should you get Quibi?
Quibi’s image quality is up to 1080p streaming right now with no Ultra HD. In my experience, app picture quality can vary from moment to moment, depending on the network you’re using.
While Quibi says it’ll add new shows each week, with its comparatively small library and no TV app, it’s hard to argue that it’s currently good value. It’s more expensive than its better equipped streaming rivals, and if its real competition is the likes of Instagram and TikTok, they’re free.
In our minds it’s worth giving Quibi a gander with its 90-day free trial, but there’s little compelling reason to continue once it’s over.