The upcoming streaming platform, Quibi has confounded me for some time. Selling itself on short-form content that it bills as being like chapters from a Dan Brown novel, the service will operate only through cell phones and tablets and will have a two-tiered monthly payment scheme–neither of which is especially thrifty. $4.99 a month (comparable to a full subscription to Shudder) will net you access to the content with ads, but you can subscribe for $7.99 (more than most streaming services) and get the same content without the ads. That sounds bizarre for an unproven platform with no pre-streaming legacy.
Yet here we are inching ever closer to Quibi’s release, and now we have a look at its starting lineup. It’s hefty at 50 series, but will it be enough?
I really don’t think so, unless you’re a big fan of unscripted shows. Despite such a large amount of content, there are only four scripted series launching with the service:
- Survive: Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins are the only two people alive after a plane crash and must struggle against the elements in a barren wilderness to survive.
- Most Dangerous Game: Liam Hemsworth is a terminally ill man who decides that the best way to provide for his pregnant wife after he dies is to enter a human hunt ala Hard Target as the prey. Christoph Waltz also stars, and if he’s the dude hunting Hemsworth, then that’s pretty damn cool.
- Flipped: Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson are would-be TV house flippers who happen upon a stash of cartel cash in one of their fixer-uppers. In order to pay back the cartel leader, played by Andy Garcia, they’ll have to renovate his mansion. I like Will Forte, but that’s pretty much all I like about that setup.
- When the Streetights Go On: The teenage sister of a murder victim comes to age amid a homicide investigation.
And that’s pretty much it! Less than a tenth of the content will be scripted. It’s also worth noting that the service’s potentially heaviest hitting series won’t arrive until later. There’s no mention of Reno 911, Tomie, Spielberg’s After Dark, or The Ice Cream Man.
If you love reality shows and want to pay a premium for them, then you might have more luck. Quibi’s got a ton of reality content like a revival of Punk’d, You Ain’t Got These about sneaker culture, and Shape of Pasta about a chef who travels Italy to find pasta makers. Oh, there’s also a show called Murder House Flip, which I’m sure you can guess is a home-renovation show about houses where people were actually murdered that are then gentrified and sold for profit. God, I hope there’s a scene in which a potential buyer stands in the living room awestruck and says, “It really doesn’t feel like anyone was murdered here at all!” That would make my day.
Finally, Quibi is pushing what it refers to as Daily Essentials. These shows will have new episodes daily in which late night shows will be recapped, guided meditations will calm your spirit, you will be motivated by gurus, and you can get the daily news and weather. For eight bucks a month? What a steal!
So, despite having such a large list of programs launching on its service, I still maintain that Quibi going to fall flat. With such a puny number of scripted series, I can’t imagine folks being inspired to open their wallets. We all likely have places to get our reality junk food, meditation, inspiration, news, and weather already. Why would anyone pay more for it?
I could be wrong, though, and Quibi could step up its game in time to save itself. Though it lands April 6 with these series, the service does intend to launch 175 shows with a whopping 8,500 pieces of content within its first year. I suppose all it needs are one or two series to set the world on fire in order to stay on the map.