The creators of the mobile-first streaming service want to change the way you watch videos on the go by offering the option to tune into premium Hollywood-produced content instead of services like YouTube.
To accomplish that goal, Quibi has recruited a surprisingly deep list of star actors and directors to create short, bite-sized stories. However, since the premium streaming service isn’t offering a free subscription plan, its content will have to be enticing enough to motivate its target audience to get out their credit cards.
Is Quibi’s content lineup strong enough to compete in an already crowded market for streaming services? Read on to find out the answer to that question and learn everything else you need to know about the service ahead of its launch.
Quibi launch date, free trial, prices and bundles
Last month, Quibi announced that it will launch in April of next year with two subscription options: a $5/month base plan and a $8/month premium alternative. If you purchase the $5/month plan, you’ll have to watch occasional advertisements. The $8/month subscription removes the ads.
The creators of Quibi are probably hoping that its $5/month subscription plan will convince millennials to at least give it a shot. The cheapest monthly plan that Netflix currently offers costs nearly twice as much at $9/month. Disney+’s least expensive monthly subscription will cost $7/month.
A free trial will let new Quibi users test drive the service to see if they like it. The Quibi website doesn’t specify the length of the trial, but Vulture reported that it will last two weeks.
Quibi launch: Star actors and directors join forces to introduce a new visual storytelling format
Rather than offering an entire season of 20 to 30 minute shows all at once, Quibi series will be released in 10-minute segments– one day at a time.
The Wrap reported that at an industry conference in June, Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg shed some additional light on what Quibi’s new format will look like.
“The basis of what we are doing is rooted in what television has been doing for 70 years: having a moment in an episode that makes you go ‘wow!’ and a bridge that makes you want to come back for the next chapter,” Katzenberg said. “The goal for us is to do it with a new time constraint and a new format.”
Katzenberg went on say that one of the main inspirations for the new format was thriller author Dan Brown. Even though Dan Brown’s novels are often very long, he structures the chapters so that they can be read in 10 minutes or less.
Quibi’s impressive roster of talent
Steven Spielberg is one of the most recognizable names involved with Quibi. The star director has shaped the face of Hollywood many times before. His smash hit Jaws was the original summer blockbuster. Its sequels– as well as Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and Spielberg’s many other hits– opened producers up to the idea that moviegoers would turn out in droves to watch their favorite franchises on the big screen.
Other big names that are working with Quibi include Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, Lost co-creator Jeffrey Lieber and Vikings screenwriter Michael Hirst. Supermodel Tyra Banks is getting her own Quibi docuseries. An upcoming Quibi drama called #FreeRayshawn will star Laurence Fishburne.
Quibi launch: original content
- Charlemagne. Michael Hirst’s (Vikings, The Tudors) historical drama follows the life of Roman emperor Charlemagne.
- Frat Boy Genius. A semi-fictional account of Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel’s rise to fame and fortune.
- #FreeRayshawn. A young, black Iraq War vet from New Orleans is framed by the police for a crime he didn’t commit. Laurence Fishburne plays the part of a sympathetic officer.
- Skinny Dip. On the night of their wedding anniversary cruise ship vacation, a husband flings his wife overboard. She teams up with the retired cop who rescues her to get revenge. The story is based on a Carl Hiaasen novel.
- The Stranger. After a ride-share driver picks up a psychotic passenger in Hollywood Hills, chaos ensues. Written and directed by Veena Sud (The Killing, Seven Seconds).
- Tomie. A killer kidnaps a high school girl and leaves pieces of her body all over town. Based on Juni Ito’s manga series.
- Wolves and Villagers. Not much has been revealed about this thriller starring Naomi Watts (Twin Peaks, Birdman) other than that it’s supposed to be an updated version of 1987’s Fatal Attraction.
- Untitled thriller. Nick Santora (The Sopranos, Prison Break) is working on an untitled thriller starring Liam Hemsworth. The story follows a desperate man who signs up for a deadly game after discovering that his wife is pregnant.
- After Dark. Little is known about the plot of Steven Spielberg’s super secret horror project, except for one creepy detail: Quibi users will only be able to watch it after the sun goes down.
- Guillermo del Toro’s untitled zombie series. Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water creator Guillermo del Toro has been tapped to create story involving zombies for Quibi.
- 50 States of Fear. This horror anthology series will be based around popular urban legends from various states. Evil Dead franchise creator Sam Raimi is one of the executive producers.
- The Last Vampire. A 500-year-old vampire teams up with an FBI agent to save the world from a mysterious threat. Written by Terry Matalas (12 Monkeys).
- Last Resort. After a billionaire offers to buy a Hawaiian resort, the Polynesian family that owns it gets thrown into a whirlwind. The show’s executive producers include Dwayne Johnson (The Fast and the Furious) and Paul Feig (Freaks and Geeks).
- Action Scene. This comedic action film stars Kevin Hart, who plays the role of a fictionalized version of himself. After he fails to land a role in a blockbuster action flick, Hart finds himself fighting his way through a series of crazy situations with the help of various A-list stars.
- Crazy Talented. A group of superheroes save the world after villains gain control of deadly weapons. The twist: the heroes are actually mentally ill residents of a psychiatric ward.
- Dummy. An off-beat buddy comedy about the adventures of a woman who wants to be a writer and her boyfriend’s sex doll.
- Mapleworth Murders. After a series of murders shock a sleepy Connecticut town, a mystery writer starts looking into their deaths. Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live is one of the executive producers.
- The Now. A man on the verge of sucide decides to seize the day after learning that his brother killed himself.
- Royalties. This satire starring Darren Criss of Glee pokes fun at the music industry.
- Winos. A failed tech entrepreneur switches gears, moves away from Silicon Valley and tries his luck at reviving a run-down vineyard.
- Biggest Little Cook-Off. In this satirical take on competitive cooking shows like Iron Chef, contestants square off to create meals that must fit on a plate that’s the size of a dime.
- Don’t Look Deeper. A high school student begins to feel that something is wrong and starts to get a hunch that she isn’t human. Jeffery Lieber of Lost fame is one of the executive producers.
- Transmissions. Unsettling signals from outer space come in and a lone scientist manning a remote observatory must decide what to do. Jed Mercurio of Bodyguard and Line of Duty is one of the executive producers.
- Beauty. This show follows supermodel Tyra Banks as she attempts to understand and redefine the way society thinks of beauty.
- You Ain’t Got These. Host Lena Waithe (Master of None) explores the impact of sneaker culture.
- Untitled documentary about high school basketball. This unnamed docuseries will chronicle the St. Benedict’s Prep Gray Bees, one of the best high school basketball teams in the United States. NBA star Stephen Curry is one of the series’ executive producers.
- Dishmantled. At the beginning of each show, a cannon fires a plate of food into the faces of two chefs. Whoever successfully identifies and recreates the dish, wins. Tituss Burgess of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will be the host.
- Chrissy’s Court. Model Chrissy Teigen presides over real small-claims court cases. Both parties must agree to adhere to Teigen’s verdict before the appear on the show.
- Elba vs. Block. Actor Idris Elba of Luther fame takes on professional rally driver Ken Block. Each episode, they perform stunts to see who has the better driving skills.
- Thanks a Million. This show follows Jennifer Lopez and nine other celebrities. Each participant will choose one influential person from their lives. That person will receive $100,000, and then they’ll be tasked with passing on half of their award to someone else.
- An untitled competitive music show starring Scooter Braun. Scooter Braun– the music industry titan that represents Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, J Balvin, Demi Lovato and others– is getting his own competitive music show on Quibi.
- Fight Like a Girl. Experienced female WWE stars help rookies overcome their struggles. The WWE’s chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon will host.
- Nightgowns. RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Sasha Velour organizes the most important drag event of her life. Each episode of the show will focus on a different performer and the challenges they encounter as they prepare.
- Shape of Pasta. Chef Evan Funke journeys around Italy to connect with its pasta experts and explore various lesser-known pasta shapes.
Quibi launch: familiar franchises, reboots, prequels and remakes
- The Fugitive. Since this title is based on the 1993 film that was inspired by the 1960s series, it’s fair to say that it’s a reboot of a reboot. The plot follows the story of a wrongfully accused man who must lead the authorities to the truth as a fugitive after he’s blamed for a crime he didn’t commit.
- Punk’d. MTV’s prank show is making yet another comeback. Augmented reality-based technology will make the pranks seem even more believable.
- Singled Out. The new tagline of this revived dating show– which originally aired on MTV from 1995 to 1998– is that “anyone and everyone can find love, no matter their sexual preference.”
- Varsity Blues. Based on the 1999 high school football movie, this series retells the story of a backup quarterback that gets suddenly thrown into the spotlight.
- How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. This show revisits the story of the 2003 rom-com movie of the same name. The plot centers around an advice columnist and an ad executive that have conflicting romantic agendas.
- Unnamed “El Señor de Los Cielos” prequel. This currently unnamed series will follow the life of Amado Carrillo Fuentes before the events of Telemundo’s El Señor de Los Cielos telenovela.
Can Quibi succeed?
The increasingly crowded streaming service marketplace is just one of the obstacles that Quibi will have to overcome. More and more streaming services are competing for cord-cutters’ limited entertainment budgets. The recent Netflix price hike– which turned out to be the streaming titan’s biggest price increase ever— may have made the problem of subscription fatigue even worse.
These cash-strapped demographics may determine the service’s future
Quibi is focused on catering primarily to generation Z– or, people under the age of 25. It’s easy to understand why, since generation Z and millenials watch the most mobile video content. The problem for Quibi is that with so many free video apps to choose from, neither group may be willing to foot the $5/month bill.
According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, the average millenial had $36,000 in personal debt last year. Credit reporting company Experian says that the average generation Z consumer had $10,891 worth of debt in the fourth quarter of 2018– a 26% increase from the previous year.
Mobile video viewers may not be interested in Quibi
In March, Netflix announced that 70% of its viewers use their TVs to stream content from its service. Similarly, in 2017 YouTube TV said that around half of its streams wind up on TV sets rather than computer screens or mobile devices. These stats suggests that when people want to watch premium content, they generally prefer to do so with a large screen.
When people do watch mobile videos, they tend to use free apps. When people with Android devices watch mobile videos, they use YouTube 80% of the time— and they aren’t using the service to watch scripted shows and other types of premium content. According to Google information resource Think With Google, unboxing videos and product reviews are far more popular.
The minds behind Quibi say that they don’t want to compete directly with existing streaming services. Instead, they want to give mobile video consumers the option of watching something else.
“What we say internally is we’d like to be the quality of HBO and offer customers the convenience of Spotify,” Whitman said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “We’re not Facebook Watch. We’re not Snapchat. We’re not Instagram TV. We’re not YouTube. We’re Quibi, and it’s not denigrating those platforms at all … but we’re staking out a premium position relative to those.”
What happens if Quibi fails?
Entertainment writer Merrill Barr of Forbes thinks that even if Quibi fails as a platform, it can still succeed as a content provider.
He points out that if Quibi goes bust, it can turn around and license its content to platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ and others.
After all, it’s been done before. Cable channels like MTV and Comedy Central that were disrupted by the cord-cutter movement have made similar pivots.
Alex Munkachy is a freelance writer, game developer and hobby robotics enthusiast. You can find his blog about robotics news and reviews at robotfanatics.com.