During this month’s Super Bowl and Oscar ceremony, Quibi finally unveiled their first advertisements ushering us into a new world of mobile content. The commercials didn’t show too much, only a teaser of what was to come. But even based off the advertisements, I still don’t think the public is aware of what Quibi actually is.
If you live outside the media municipalities of L.A. and New York, you may not be aware of the booming surge of production produced by Quibi. Or, your mother may have even asked you via text, “What is Quibi?” To start, Quibi is a mobile based short-form content provider, that is to say, it’s like a Hulu or your phone, only that each episode of content is five to ten-minute-long (Quibi being short for “quick-bites”). Commissioned by former Dreamworks Animaton head and Steven Spielberg’s right-hand man Jeffrey Katzenberg, the billion dollar+ venture has been hiring filmmakers and producers across the board to produce content for the platform, among them being Spielberg himself, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi, a revival of Punk’d featuring Chance the Rapper, and many, many, others.
Such shows will feature the novelty of being short, easily and quickly watchable, as well as take on different approaches in exhibition, such as Spielberg’s produced horror series which will only be available in the evening after the sun goes down.
Scheduled to launch April 6th, almost a year after its announcement, with an arsenal of content up its sleeve but has only begun to advertise, Quibi has perhaps been holding out for something bigger, to ensure they’ll be on the receiving end of the billion-dollar question on everyone’s minds: will it actually catch on? Not just in terms of “will it actually make money,” but also in terms of will the rising youth actually prefer watching content on their phone? Will it finally prove the theory that short-form content is the future of content consumption?
Take into account the already available short-form platform mobile content that exists. Things like Snap Originals and Facebook TV have yet to take off, yet apps like TikTok continue to thrive, which makes Hollywood ask itself, “How can we monetize this un-tapped market?” Or is it a market that’s DOA?
It’s hard to imagine that teens and adults alike will be watching Quibi shows anywhere but on-the-go, which is primarily how this platform will be viewed. But is it strong enough to occupy a morning commute to work? Surely viewers won’t just be watching it in their homes on their couch – if anything, they’ll be watching shows on their home TV and be on Twitter on their phone at the same time.
But then again, how can a multi-billion dollar venture be so keen and sure of its own success? Do they know something we don’t? Is there an algorithm they rely on to ensure their success? Or will it ultimately be a bubble that will just pop?
One thing is for sure – it has Hollywood directors and producers screaming for the opportunity to get un-produced material made. What sucks directors into Quibi is their post-release strategy. Once the project has been released/available after two years on the service, the creators and the studio behind it then own the rights to the project and are allowed to release the project to a global audience as one contiguous piece of content, thus giving the producers the sense that they own their project entirely, which perhaps is what’s driving this money machine – everyone will bring their project to Quibi because they’ll eventually want to own the rights and reap the financial benefits.
But will the oncoming of short-form mobile content finally take off? That remains to be seen. If it does, though, it won’t be due to an algorithm that successfully pinpoints what audiences like or don’t like – it’ll be due to a ground-breaking series that will pave the way for short-form content, something we didn’t think we needed, something that takes the platform and does something different with it. Maybe this is only the preliminary phase. And maybe there is something worthy in Quibi’s whole strategy. Or maybe, it’ll launch, fail, and then rise back out of the ashes as a completely new beast.