Quibi: The $2 billion enigma

Quibi is the newest in a long line of apps hoping to rival Netflix as the next iconic video streaming service. Unlike most startups wanting to be “the next big thing”, Quibi was produced by a group of people already successful in the entertainment industry, coming from successful brands such as Paramount and Disney.

Because of the founders’ successful track record and industry connections, Quibi managed to raise around $1.85 billion in funding for the platform and the production of Quibi exclusive TV shows.

So, what is Quibi?

Quibi is a mobile only streaming app, attempting to produce high-quality TV shows that last under 10 minutes (which you can’t watch on your TV).

When watching, you’re able to tilt your phone to either horizontal or vertical for differing watching experiences (allegedly, but this hasn’t really been utilised properly yet).

That’s the whole shtick. The $1.85 billion shtick.

Realistically, Quibi’s big USP isn’t that it’s only available on your phone (because that’s dumb), it’s the huge amount of money they’ve invested in creating content for the app.

From a Bear Grylls rip-off staring Zac Efron, to a documentary series about sneaker culture, to a horror series by Guillermo Del Toro; Quibi has invested a lot of money into producing their TV shows.

Whilst impressive, the constrictive length of the episodes result in Quibi’s content feeling more like a big-budget YouTube channel than a high-production TV show. The length is perfect for a taxi journey or commuting on public transport… but that’s about it.

A big fact that Quibi’s founders have concentrated on is that only 10% of Netflix users watch on their phone, so Quibi wants to attempt to try and fill the gap that Netflix isn’t. However, it could be argued that YouTube has always been the occupier of this gap.

There are already a lot of high-quality YouTube channels, with many big media companies utilising the platform. Better yet, YouTube content ranges from seconds to hours; meaning it provides a more diverse catalogue of content.

Considering that Quibi is a mobile only app and only supports short-form content, you’d think it was a free app with adverts? Nope, this is a paid subscription app, and even if you pay you still have to watch adverts (unless you pay the premium price).

I guess they need to pay back that $1.85 billion somehow…

Unfortunately, despite their huge lineup of upcoming content full of the biggest Hollywood names, Quibi hasn’t exactly gained traction out of the gate. Considering a large amount of the world’s population is stuck at home only able to use streaming services, that’s not a good start for Quibi.

Sure, Quibi does have time to evolve and grow, but realistically the app probably doesn’t have legs for the long run. Ultimately, it just feels like the product of rich execs from Hollywood with too much money, thinking they still have a pulse on what’s popular with the youth.

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