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What Is Quibi?

The new streaming service designed for your phone

What Is Quibi? The new streaming service designed for your phone

Even though Italy is not talking much about it, in the past few days Quibi made its official debut: the new short-form video app explicitly studied for smart-phones

This new service fits a market that seems already full (nss magazine had the same doubts about the recent launch of Disney+), but this rough competition doesn't bother its founders. The names involved are already mind-blowing: Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen and Steven Spielberg

Not another streaming platform. We could sum up with this slogan the principles that moved the development of Quibi, echoing the title of the iconic anti-comedy of the early 2000s (Not Another Teen Movie, 2001). This new app features two important innovations: first of all, it's destined to be used exclusively on smartphones, and its contents are designed to be watched in both senses (horizontally and vertically) without deforming the images; then, its shows never last more than 10 minutes. The name comes from the expression “Quick Bites” and refers to those contents to be seen in the spare time. Its slogan is loud and clear: "I'll be there in a Quibi!", says a thief that looks like a parody of Money Heist on Netflix in the official promo

You might think that this is nothing new. After all, the short-video format was already taken by YouTube and the latest IGTV; while in 2007, presenting the first iPhoneSteve Jobs already talked about the opportunity to watch on it the full saga of Pirates of the Caribbean. Still, the minds behind Quibi are worth the hope. The founder is Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios from 1984 to 2004 (he was the head of the “Disney Renaissance” that saved the company from bankrupt with films as The Lion King), then co-founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation (that might be failed, but produced some instant-classics like The Prince of Egypt and Shrek). Along with Meg Whitman (the managing director of eBay, described by the New York Times as one of the most powerful managers in the USA) and almost 300 employees, Katzenberg already convinced some of the biggest investors in the world: Alibaba, Disney, Sony, Viacom and Warner Media. 

Despite the limit of 10 minutes, the plate is rich. On Quibi there are filmsdocumentaries, shows and news (in collaboration with NBC News, BBC and ESPN). We're talking of some thrillers as Survive with Sophie Turner (Sansa from Game of Thrones) or Most Dangerous Game with Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; a comic show with Chrissy TeigenNikki Fre$h, a life-style show with Nicole Richie; the come back of Punk’d, the famous MTV show now hosted on Quibi by Chance The RapperThanks a Million, where celebrities gift a person they're grated to with $100.000 (Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Bell, Kevin Hart and many others); You Ain’t Got These, a series about sneaker culture hosted by Lena Waithe (sneakers seem to be the trend of every media representation, as we've recently seen them on the first episode of The World According To Jeff Goldblum). 

For now, Quibi has about 50 titles - but it promised an investment of almost $1 billion until the end of 2020, for a total of more than 170 shows that will involve many other celebrities: Reese Witherspoon, Guillermo Del Toro, Will Smith and LeBron James. It looks like Steve Spielberg will direct a film for the app: After Dark, a horror movie which episodes will be available for streaming only in the night hours. The interesting idea is that Quibi will own the rights on those particular shows, but after two years these shows will be free to evolve and even become real movies or TV series. This way, directors and producers are encouraged to try their experimental works on the app and see the response of their public.

Still, there is a lot of scepticism around this debut. Even though Katzenberg and Whitman are not scared by the emergency of Coronavirus, it's true that Quibi lands on the market in the wrong moment: as we said, its contents are meant to fulfil the spare times (whether on the subway, during a coffee break or in line at the Post Office) that quarantine has shut down. Many subscribers already complained that they can't watch those contents on Smart TVs (that would actually be one of the main innovations of the app). In fact, on its first day of launch the app was downloaded around 300.000 times, only the 8% of the US first-day downloads of Disney+ (though its naive to compare a start-up – after all, Quibi is a start-up – to the biggest media-conglomerate in history). 

To face the crisis, Quibi extended its free trial from 2 weeks to 90 days: it means that if you subscribe today, you'll be able to watch its contents for free until July. Once the free-trial period is off, you could decide between a monthly subscription of $4,99 (with ads) and the less cheap alternative of $7,99, without ads. Even though there hasn't been any official statement about the European release, Quibi is already available in Italy in original language and with English and Spanish subtitles. 

Let's just take a chance on it.