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Quibi Is Already Pivoting to Television Because Mobile-Only Content Isn’t That Big of a Draw


Oh Quibi, your commercials have been so irritating and given me no reason to log on, despite my love for Sophie Turner in that weird Lost-looking show. But it seems like I’m not the only one who hasn’t felt the Quibi fever, as the first day of the new streaming service only resulted in 300,000 downloads. Considering that we are (mostly) all home, that is not exactly the kind of rollout they were hoping for, which makes their pivot to television expected.

According an interview with CNBC, the streaming service will be fast-tracking its ability to be accessed on television, in order to deal with the fact that with so many people stuck at home, there is a lot less place for the kind of “short-form content” the platform was trying to promote.

Meg Whitman, who co-created the service with Jeffrey Katzenberg, however, told CNBC in the same interview that she doesn’t think that the pandemic hurt the launch, since they did get 1.6 million downloads in the first week. However, Disney+, a competing platform with some built-in advantages but not perfect by far, got 10 million downloads in its first week. She also brought up that 80% of users watched a show from beginning to end. I mean, considering that episodes of the shows are 5-10 minutes long, I’d hope that they were at least sticking around for that much.

Reviews for shows on the streaming service have not been great, despite the huge amounts of money that have been thrown onto it. There’s still time for it to find an audience, but I think Whitman and Katzenberg really overestimated the idea that people want shorter content. I think people often feel overwhelmed by the options, but overall, people like a full series, complete with full-length episodes—a well structured, 6-13 episode series, but a series nonetheless. Trying to push an entire story into 5–10-minute chunks doesn’t really seem that engaging.

Even on platforms like YouTube, video essays that go on for 20-40 minutes, sometimes for over an hour, can get millions of views. As another Mary Sue staffer put it, if people want short-form entertainment, TikTok is delivering all of that, and it’s free. I use my commutes to work on the train to listen to long podcast series or catch up on TV series on my phone.

I’ve watched entire seasons of Deep Space Nine on my phone. Last night, without meaning to, I ended up watching all of Unorthodox in one go, and it was only a four-episode mini-series that left me wanting more—but you have to make people want to watch first.

If Quibi wants to do the same, then it should invest in thinking about what kind of content is actually fun in 5–10 minute bursts, because I can assure you it isn’t a fake courtroom drama. Even Paternity Court on YouTube is at least 15 minutes long.

What kind of shows do you think should be ten minutes or less?

(via /Film, image: Quibi)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.