On April 6th, Jeffrey Katzenberg — the former CEO of Disney and Dreamworks Animation — and CEO Meg Whitman (the former CEO of Hewlett Packard) will launch Quibi, another new streaming service. This one is different, however, because Quibi content is designed for and will only be available on mobile devices. The TV series come in episodes of 4 to 10 minutes in length. For $4.99 a month with ads and $7.99 without, viewers can watch an episode of a Quibi series while in a cab or on the subway or while eating a burrito at Chipotle instead of texting family members, playing Words with Friends, or browsing any number of social media platforms. Personally, there’s more than enough to do in the limited time I have alone with my smart phone, so I can’t imagine needing content, but Quibi is gambling that other consumers spend so much time on their phones that there’s nothing left to do except watch a 2020 version of The Fugitive in chunks of 4 to 10 minutes.
I’ll give it a shot, but given the multiplying number of streaming platforms — all of which are available on our smart phones — it will take some impressively good content to convince me to spend another $5 – $8 a month for more shows when I still haven’t finished the final season of Bojack Horseman, which comes in 22 minute chunks and with a pause button.
Based on the trailers I’ve seen, however, here is how I would rank anticipation for the new Quibi series.
1. Flipped — Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson star in this Quibi series about a chronically underemployed couple who call themselves home renovation “experts” and are convinced that they are television’s next great home design celebrity duo. The series follows the clueless pair as their dreams of basic cable fame and glory are derailed when they get themselves kidnapped by members of a drug cartel. It ranks highest on the list purely because of the presence of Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson, who I would happily watch in any comedy (I’m just not sure I’d spend $8 a month to do so).
2. MTV’s Punk’d — Punk’d, created and formerly hosted by Ashton Kutcher, is back, and now it will be hosted by Chance the Rapper. I will grant that Punk’d pranks are perfectly suited to 5-10 minute chunks on our smart phones, although there’s a pre-existing platform that is great for this kind of content, as well. It’s called YouTube. It’s where Quibi is premiering all of its trailers.
3. The Fugitive — Kiefer Sutherland and Boyd Holbrook star in this remake of The Fugitive, because action movies with expensive special effect sequences obviously look better on a … smart phone? I understand that episodes come in 5-10 minute increments, but I am wondering if they’re all released at once or weekly? Can we binge watch a series of 10 minute episodes? Because that’s almost like … watching a movie.
4. Most Dangerous Game — Like The Fugitive, this is an other action series, but this one stars Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz. If the episodes are released weekly, and they are only 5-10 minutes in length, is that enough time for viewers to get invested enough to want to see what happens the next week? I’ve listened to a few podcast series with episodes in the 10-minute range, but only after they’ve completed their seasons so that I can binge them all at once.
5. Survive — Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins star as survivors of a plane crash who must embark on a harrowing journey to get home. It actually reminds me a little of The Walking Dead webisodes, which were available on YouTube. Wait? So, Quibi is basically just webisodes for smart phones?
6. Elba Vs. Block — In this Quibi series, Idris Elba and Ken Block go head to head to see who is best behind the driver’s seat (spoiler: Ken Block is a professional driver. Idris Elba played Heimdall in the Thor movies. I think we can guess who is “best.”). Still, I can see why this might work on a smart-phone platform.
7. NightGowns With Sasha Velour — Personally, I feel like drag shows are designed to be watched in a communal setting — in a theater, in a club, on our couches — but Quibi will offer us the opportunity to watch them by ourselves while wearing airpods.
These are the only series that have released teaser trailers, so far. Quibi will offer literally dozens of other series. While I admit that I’m very skeptical of this streaming service, some of the projects sound delightful, like Justin Roiland’s claymation series and Thanks a Million, a show where a celebrity (Tracy Morgan, Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Bell) gives $100,000 to someone who was a major influence on their lives and that person must give half the money to an inspiration in their lives and so on down the line.
Quibi launches on April 6th.