Quibi launched yesterday, with videos under 10 minutes long, only on phones

Embed from Getty Images
In December Zac Efron got seriously ill while filming a reality series, Killing Zac Efron in Papua New Guinea. He was flown to Australia for treatment and got home to the U.S. just before Christmas. The show is one of the series on the new streaming network Quibi, which just launched Monday:

They had to cancel the premiere party. But Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have stuck with the April 6 start date of Quibi, the short-form video app for smartphones that they hope will attract millions of subscribers.

After having led some of the nation’s top companies for decades, the two veteran executives have spent the last two years in start-up mode, prodding investors to kick in nearly $1.8 billion while courting producers and stars like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Chance the Rapper, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Steven Spielberg and Chrissy Teigen. Now Mr. Katzenberg and Ms. Whitman are ready to unveil their ambitious venture right in the middle of a pandemic.

“This is either going to be a massive home run or a massive swing and miss,” said Michael Goodman, a media analyst at Strategy Analytics.

Quibi, a portmanteau of “quick bites,” will offer movies, reality shows and news programs made for the smartphone, with no installment clocking in at more than 10 minutes. The offerings fall into three main categories: movies that will be released in chapters; documentaries and unscripted reality shows; and quick-hit news and sports reports from NBC, BBC, ESPN and others. Fifty shows will be available Monday.

Before the spread of the coronavirus, whenever Mr. Katzenberg and Ms. Whitman made their Quibi pitch, they described it as an on-the-go diversion for anyone standing in line at Starbucks or riding the subway. The pandemic changed the context. With potential customers largely confined to their homes, it will now go up against established platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that can be watched on any screen, including the living room TV. Quibi works only on the phone.

[From the New York Times]

Quibi (it’s pronounced to rhyme with “libby”) is going to be free for three months, and then $5 per month (with ads) or $8 without, according to the New York Tmes. Meg Whitman thinks that Quibi is still destined to be a hit because of how much more time people are probably spending on their phones while isolating at home. The New York Times points out that with so many more people unemployed (nearly 10 million), they might not want to spend more money on another streaming app. People’s attention spans are short, so 10 minutes might be just the right length of time to keep people invested in what they are watching. This makes me wonder even more, though, if Zac Efron’s experience filming his show is going to be “worth it” in the end.

Vulture has a list of the fifty shows that are streaming right now. LeBron James is behind a docuseries, I Promise, about students, staff and parents at his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. Chrissy Teigen is hosting Chrissy’s Court, which is just what it sounds like: Chrissy is going to serve as a judge to handle actual disputes. (I’d absolutely watch this.) Some of these shows look like they could be fun, especially in short bursts. For ninety free days, I’ll probably check it out. I hope that it has a fair opportunity to succeed. Currently, I’m taking advantage of Acorn’s thirty-day free trial to watch a bunch of mystery series that everyone keeps telling me are great, but Quibi will be up next.

View this post on Instagram

@lilnasx 💸💸💸 #Punkd

A post shared by Quibi (@quibi) on

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

15 Responses to “Quibi launched yesterday, with videos under 10 minutes long, only on phones”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. jessamine says:

    The shows might be good, but to me this launch is just really poorly time. All I want right now are bingeable deep dives.

  2. Jenn says:

    I agree, the timing is bad, I’m out of work right now, and even though it’s only $5, I won’t be spending it for this. I imagine I’m not alone in that thought either.

  3. Anna says:

    I think they should have a free with ads option. Unemployment in the US is reaching record highs as a result of everything closing down (and we do need to keep people safe, I’m not criticizing that at all). Just saying that I suspect a lot people will be cutting unnecessary expenses and not adding to them. Even with the three months free option.

  4. Marjorie says:

    This sounds like the lowest common denominator to me. Cynical – let’s see, how do we monetize every spare ten minutes of someone’s day? And if people only have three bucks, how do we get it?

    • Mumbles says:

      Yeah I don’t get it. If something’s good, I’d want to watch a lot more than ten minutes of it at a time. If something’s bad, I wouldn’t want to watch it at all. And hard pass for me for Chrissy’s Court. I know people like her but she is not my cup of tea. Just bought her second penthouse.

  5. Lucy2 says:

    Lol I remember 30 Rock having this idea as a joke many years ago, short videos just for your phone. “Thanks, phone!”
    With the shut down, I imagine they will get a ton of people trying the free period, and then everyone bails when it comes time to actually pay.

  6. Joanna says:

    I love Chrissy, I would absolutely watch her show!


    I am just mad that it’s allegedly a portmanteau for “quick bites” but is pronounced “qui-bee.” That makes no sense!! Sure it sounds better than “qui-buy” but it irks me as an editor.

  8. AppleTartin says:

    Now we are a ADHD society. The concept is good. But I would want to be able to watch on Roku and they won’t do that. The only mini show I was interested in was the reboot of Reno 911. Thomas Lennon has my heart <3

  9. Veronica says:

    I can see this doing well at first but struggling in the long run. With content that compact, you’re going to have to pump out a lot of it, consistently, and that’s usually not a good recipe for quality over time.

  10. NeoFavorr says:

    Now you pay for commercials, and pay more for no commercials? Should be free if I have to watch commercials, like every other platform. No thanks. Qi bye.

  11. Kristin says:

    I had no idea what Quibi was until this group I’ve been following for many years, called Everything is Terrible, posted yesterday about how Quibi TOTALLY ripped off their aesthetic and the name Memory Hole. It’s astoundingly bad.