It has been some years now since the term ‘Netflix and chill’ seeped into every wayward corner of the internet, and still the streaming behemoth remains built into the very fabric of pop culture.
Today, treading in its giant red footsteps come Amazon Prime and Apple TV+, investing unimaginable amounts of shiny Hollywood dollars into their original content.
Whilst giants in their fields, each of these service’s approach is not dissimilar. Now, however, another platform hopes to shake things up just a smidge.
Launched this week, Quibi is a new streaming service whose videos are exclusively ten minutes or less.
Unlike its web-friendly competitors, it can only be used on mobile devices, utilising dynamic portrait-to-landscape ‘Turnstyle’ viewing technology – that is, whatever way up your phone is, your shows will always be full-screen.
When you’re launching a platform that demands its audience to have downtime and a thirst for entertainment, there are of course worse times for doing so than in the midst of worldwide self-isolation.
However, Quibi’s model, devised long before anyone could have predicted a literal universal shutdown, never necessarily needed such a situation to go large.
Quibi’s ten-minute video limit strikes a chord with today’s content consumer’s on-the-go, app-flipping short attention span.
Instead of a usual 30-minute or hour-long episodes which have always existed as the binary options of television past, runtimes are cut-down significantly, enabling viewers to sneakily pack in an entire rounded segment of their favourite show into a toilet break.
Perhaps standing out as most innovative in its portfolio, Quibi will also make feature films, dissected into ten-minute ‘chapters’.
Whilst you could argue this is hardly different from the longstanding scene selection option found on the main menu of DVDs, Quibi’s chapters have been specifically crafted from script through post-production to be watched individually. Naturally, you can still binge an entire series if desired.
Whilst this all sounds a little startup-esque, Quibi’s journey has been far from it. The company, founded in 2018 by American film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, quickly raised its $1billion investment goal from 11 major studios including The Walt Disney Co., Sony Pictures and WarnerMedia.
With the money in the bag, the path was for paved for Quibi to get huge stars on board for its 175 shows (over 8000 episodes, that is) now in the works.
Thriller flick Survive stars Game of Thrones alumnus Sophie Turner, who must find her way home when her plane out of the psychiatric facility where she has spent the past few years crashes and everyone on board is killed apart from one other person. Phew!
Chrissy’s Court sees model and Twitterverse legend Chrissie Teigen leads in a sort of comedy Judge Judy.
Noughties hidden-camera prankathon Punk’d has even been resurrected, this time hosted by Chance the Rapper.
With more quirks up Quibi’s short-form sleeve, Steven Spielberg offers up his Spielberg’s After Dark, a horror series which is only playable after the sun has set. Yes, really.
Also at-the-ready are dozens of quick-fire news shows, flying fresh to your phone daily from brainwaves of CBS, the BBC, TMZ and even Rotten Tomatoes.
With Quibi’s yet oh-so short existence, it’s hard to determine its appeal to the masses. Though reportedly receiving just 7.5% of the day-one app downloads in the US that new-fangled outlet Disney+ did, Quibi quite understandably lacks the name, publicity and historic adoration to push it to this pinnacle.
One thing that you can be sure of, though, is the critique and controversy that has hovered above Quibi’s household-name-wannabe head since its inception.
When starting up, price needs to be your big player in persuading consumers of a saturated market to choose your platform over others, yet Quibi’s UK launch has already kicked off to a bad start on this front.
After a 90-day free trial, your subscription will cost you £7.99 a month – that’s more than Apple TV+, Disney+ and Netflix’s cheapest plan – for currently far less content than its rivals. Again, with mobile-only viewing (an option even Netflix is trialling for less than £3), what is marketed as a cool USP could actually just leave subscribers feeling a bit ripped off.
As well as a patent dispute earlier this year on its signature Turnstyle tech with video developer Eko, Quibi’s ‘original’ content has transpired to be not entirely original.
Memory Hole sees Will Arnett take us through a different badly-aged trend, event or thing each episode in the form of a found-footage clip show, but at just a few days old the show itself is already similarly looking a little worse for wear.
Its format and retro graphics have been accused to replica almost exactly those of a 2014 work of the same name from art collective Everything is Terrible!.
Quibi has so far projected an aura of insane self-belief, something major studio big shots were quick to latch on to and run with.
But the platform is only now about to meet the real critic in whose hands its fate lays – the already streaming-soaked masses.