The Reviews for Quibi Are in and They Are Rough
Oof magoof, these are bad!
In August of 2018, media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg announced his newest business venture: Quibi. The short form mobile video platform, which is short for “quick bites”, promised the biggest stars, the most talented creators, and over a billion dollars worth of investment from studios in what was supposed to be a revolution in mobile entertainment.
Katzenberg and Co. are looking to capitalize on the lost time we spend on our phones, i.e. scrolling through social media while waiting in line at Starbucks, by giving us short little nuggets of content that play out in 10 minutes or less. And unlike competitors like Netflix or Hulu, Quibi originals will only be available on your smartphone or tablet.
Quibi launched last week, during a time of quarantine and social distancing, which will undoubtedly hurt its chances. After all, if you’re cooped up at home, you’re more likely to watch content on a larger screen. But pandemic viewing conditions aside, how is the content? With big names ranging from Steven Spielberg to Liam Hemsworth to Sophie Turner to Chrissy Teigen, is the content worth the wait/subscription fee?
If the early reviews are anything to go by, that’s a hard NO. Reviewers across all different sites have united to dunk on Quibi’s content and design, with predictably hilarious results. Let’s take a look at some of the scorched earth reviews of the platform.
Indiewire’s Libby Hill says of Quibi,
“But people who have time, don’t want to watch TV six minutes at a time. They certainly don’t want to watch it six minutes at a time while holding their phone in their hand. And they super, duper don’t want to watch TV six minutes at a time, while holding their phone in their hand, while they could be using that same phone to play Angry Birds while watching something on their actual TV (or computer.)
Plus, Quibi’s content just isn’t very good.”
The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber wrote a scathing article titled “Quibi Is a Wasteland”, where he says,
“After having spent a day and a half gorging on “quick bites,” I have zero shows to enthusiastically recommend. What I instead have is the sort of soul-deep burnout I haven’t felt since middle-school sick days spent on the couch with Regis Philbin. Take the all-quadrant pandering and formulas of old-school network TV, add in the messianism of a telethon, and swirl in some Reddit-friendly raunch and crassness, and set it all to hyperspeed. Thus far, Quibi offers a vast wasteland perhaps even more waste-strewn than the one millions of viewers have fled in the past two decades.”
CNET’s Alison DeNisco Rayome described the experience of using Quibi as,
“While the ability to flip the screen with Turnstyle was cool, this felt more like taking a traditional show and breaking it into chunks, instead of creating something totally new and different. And maybe it’s because I’m over 30, but I actually like watching hour-long prestige dramas on my nice big TV — I don’t need them in small chunks on my small phone screen.”
TechCrunch’s John Constine dialed into one of Quibi’s bafflingly fatal flaws: a streaming app for phones with zero social media presence. If you can’t live-tweet or second screen content, does it even exist? Quibi doesn’t even allow screenshots, so say goodbye to memes or image sharing of any kind. That’s WILD.
“It takes either audacious self-confidence or reckless hubris to build a completely asocial video app in 202 … Yet Quibi’s bold business strategy is muted by a misguided allegiance to the golden age of television before the internet permeated every entertainment medium. It’s unshareable, prescriptive, sluggish, cumbersome and unfriendly. Quibi’s unwillingness to borrow anything from social networks makes the app feel cold and isolated, like watching reality shows in the vacuum of space.
In that sense, Quibi is the inverse of TikTok, which feels fiercely alive. TikTok is designed to immediately immerse you in crowd-vetted content that grabs your attention and inspires you to spread your take on it to friends. That’s why TikTok has almost 2 billion downloads to date, while Quibi picked up just 300,000 on the day of its big splash into market.”
As of last thursday, Quibi has amassed a meager 830,000 total downloads, which doesn’t bode well for its future. All in all, it appears that Katzenberg and his partners are trying to capture the viral success of apps like TikTok and SnapChat without any understanding of what made those apps successful in the first place. What resulted was a multi-billion dollar example of generational disconnect, perhaps the most expensive “OK Boomer” punchline of all time.
Quibi is currently offering a 90 day free trial. Have you checked it out yet? What do you think so far?
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