Quibi is the latest streaming service to launch, offering up an original take on how people get their content. Nothing on the service is longer than 10-minutes long. It's a quick bite of content. Quick Bite. Quibi. Get It? Neither do we.
Launching on April 6, there is a wide variety of programming ranging from scripted, unscripted, and more available on the service--all of which is original programming. There are also daily BBC news updates, which come in quite handy for anyone wanting some quick bites of news. If they're too quick for you, though, you can also get longer versions of all the stories presented on YouTube. It's a lot of mediocrity piled into one, bizarre streaming app.
As far as must-see content goes, there is only one show that stands above the rest, "Flipped." Starring Kaitlin Olson (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Will Forte (MacGruber, Last Man on Earth), the show follows an unemployed couple who believe they are home renovation experts, so they want to become TV's next celebrity house flipping duo. The characters are delightfully naive and delusional, but have some level of talent and passion to make this dream potentially come true. The show, three episodes in, is very much a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make one of these home improvement shows, while also parodying them. Additionally, this show takes a very hard turn at the end of Episode 3 to become something entirely new. It's the only thing on Quibi, so far, that got audible laughter out of me.
Still, there is at least one piece of content on Quibi that is simply awful. Murder House Flip is a soulless show trying to combine a house-flipping series with a true crime doc. Seriously, why are two of Quibi's launch titles takes on house flipping? In Murder House Flip, people have to flip a house--over the course of two, six-minute episodes--where one or murders was committed. It is easily one of the worst TV shows I have ever watched--and this is coming from someone who truly enjoys the remodeling show Love It Or List It. It's tone-deaf and incredibly strange when puns about death and killing occasionally pop up. How is this a thing?
Outside of what is easily the best and the worst Quibi has to offer, there is a lot of middle ground. There's Chrissy's Court, where Chrissy Teigen plays a judge in a small claims court. The show is silly, fun, and the short videos actually work really well. There are also the game shows Singled Out--a revamp of the MTV series--and Gayme Show--where straight contestants compete to see who knows more about gay American culture. Both shows are fine; however, with the time constraints, you find yourself wanting something paced out a bit slower. Game shows don't work very well in six-minute bites.
The service does offer up a mountain of original content from the get go, covering different cultures, lifestyles, genres, etc. While the majority of the content feels geared towards the 18-26 demographic, there are shows on there that have mass appeal. However, the biggest problem with Quibi is that it thinks quantity is more important than quality.
Quibi is also producing movies in multiple parts, like the Liam Hemsworth-starring Most Dangerous Game. The short format makes each part feel like a trailer for another movie. You never really get a chance to get invested before the credits start rolling. It is probably the least interesting part of Quibi's streaming experience.
As for Quibi's user interface (UI), it is frustrating for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is only available on mobile devices powered by Android and iOS. If you want to watch a Quibi show on your TV or computer, too bad. However, even when you load up the app, the main menu is only available vertically. If you move your device to be horizontal, nothing happens--even if these shows can individually be viewed that way.
There's no "Continue Watching" section either--it's been worked into the "For You" section, which also contains all of the day's newly-released quick bites. Additionally, you can browse through shows, look through series you're following, or check out what you've downloaded. The main area above that menu displays one show at a time, and while the simplicity of the menu system is actually quite refreshing, the vertical-only formatting feels wrong.
Shows can be watched in both vertical and horizontal formats. Many folks, like myself, will probably prefer the horizontal format, but watching the shows vertically works out nicely. Wide shots for some shows get a split-screen treatment in the app, which is a very cool and unique way to display the service's format.
After spending quite a bit of time with the service, things started to click a lot more with the UI. Yes, it's overly-simplistic, and the long-time Netflix subscriber in me wants more options, but do I really need them? Quibi is delivering the basics, and once you get over that hump, this service is fine. It would just be better with higher-quality content, especially because the short-form storytelling isn't working for it very well.
Ultimately, this is a service geared towards people who would rather have their streaming content on their phone over on a television, and there's obviously nothing wrong with that. It's a unique way to market it. However, that being said, Quibi is not for everyone. The short-form storytelling is an odd experience, and more often than not, the an episode for a show feels more like a long commercial for a regular series. All-in-all, Quibi is a new and no-name service that does a decent job of catering to a younger demographic. But it's not great and at this point, is not something you will want to sign up for.
Quibi is currently available for Android and iOS for $5 a month (ad-supported) or $8 a month without ads. Currently, Quibi is running a 90-day free trial. If you want an idea of everything you can watch on it from launch, we have you covered.