I like Quibi. I know that’s a controversial opinion to have about a streaming service that lost 90% of its user base once the initial three-month trial period was over, but I do.
Film and TV, unlike video games, tend not to see a huge amount of innovation from the consumer’s point of view. Attempts to make 3D a thing, alongside bringing 48fps to the cinemas, have largely failed, and so despite incremental improvements in the technology we use to consume content, the content itself hasn’t really innovated at all that much.
After years of dominance from the likes of Netflix and Prime Video, Quibi sought to shake up the streaming market by offering something genuinely different to the competition: bite-sized content that was optimised for vertical viewing. In laymen’s terms, its content was designed specifically for smartphone users.
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I’ve always felt that short films never really got the appreciation they deserve, but Quibi flipped the script by bringing that formula into serialised content. The idea aimed to inspire content creators to think outside of the box and use a new vertical format in their cinematography. But then the pandemic happened.
Quibi’s service is ideal for the daily commuter, but with almost everyone stuck indoors in 2020, the idea of consuming bite-sized content on your phone when your TV is just metres away seems absolutely daft. This is exactly why Disney Plus has soared, despite the fact that Disney’s offering of new, original content is pretty slim.
Then you’ve got the fact that Quibi’s asking for £7.99 a month which is not only more expensive than the likes of Netflix, but it seems even more egregious at a time when people are losing their jobs and tightening the purse strings wherever they can. With all this in mind, Quibi’s days appear to be numbered, but that doesn’t mean that its core concept should be swept to the wayside also.
When society does eventually get back to business as usual, I would love to dive into a Quibi-style library of quick fire content on the train-ride into London. It’s my hope that if things do go south for Quibi, that we see another streaming service buyout its content and feature it in a new category designed for short-form stories.
Quibi’s issue has always been two fold, not only does it need to sell users on its core content, but it also has to convince people to open up their wallets and hand over money to yet another service. If this were Netflix, the user base would already be in place, allowing the company to focus on producing commuter friendly content and expanding upon the idea.
While there aren’t a lot of die-hard Quibi fans left, I do think that consumers should be hoping for Quibi’s central concept to live on. Anything that gets the streaming giants to break their usual routine and try something different should be encouraged, and to that end, Quibi should be applauded for making a go of it.