I, like most Americans, probably heard about Quibi during this year’s Super Bowl. With several commercials talking about Quibi as a new video platform, instead of getting me interested in the platform, I was more confused by it. Not simply because I’m an old man who doesn’t understand new fangled technology (I’m 25 for Christ’s sake), but because I had basic questions that the commercials weren’t answering. For example, what is Quibi? What does it do? Does it cost anything? Why does this need to exist? I didn’t get those answers outside of the commercials saying “quick bites, big stories,” which could really mean anything, but it didn’t even matter because Quibi wasn’t even out at that point. The commercials made no indication that it wasn’t even released and I’m sure most of you reading this had no idea that the damn thing released on Monday.
In a world where we’re all holed up inside our houses, social distancing and bored out of our skulls, most of us have probably spent a large amount of our free time online just browsing aimlessly. I bring this up because even in a world where everyone has all of the time in the world to watch whatever they want, barely anyone downloaded Quibi when it launched on Monday. In the span of 24 hours, it amassed 300,000 downloads on ITunes and had approximately 46,554 Twitter posts on Monday according to Variety. I’m not an expert when it comes to judging success, but those numbers really aren’t all that impressive. To put that into comparison, Disney+ had 5 million downloads in its first 24 hours. I know that comparing something unfavorably to Disney is kind of an easy blow, but 300,000 still is a pretty small number in the streaming wars.
Quibi offers original content meant exclusively for your phone with every video lasting less than 10 minutes. With 50 shows already released on the platform for launch, with a majority of them being news shows, it’s hard to really expect much out of the platform at the moment. There are several reality TV shows on there that have a lot of celebrities pushing them, like Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lopez, and fans of those artists are being drawn to it, but to say that Quibi’s launch has been pretty underwhelming seems like an understatement.
The platform really isn’t coming across as a great new streaming platform bursting with creativity and quality programming. To me, it’s coming across more as what rich executives think that people want. “People like short videos, celebrities, and content on their phones, so let’s just combine them all into one package!” As of right now the service is free for the first three months if you download it in April, but will begin to charge $4.99 a month for a version with ads and $7.99 for a version without ads starting in May. I’m willing to give Quibi the benefit of the doubt at this point, but this is not a great start for the service.