Quibi, if you aren’t familiar, is a different take on the streaming media genre. Instead of full-blown episodes, Quibi takes a more snackable approach to new shows, breaking things into 10-minute-or-less episodes that are meant in every way to be viewed on your phone, on the go. You can even watch them in portrait mode if you want, leaning even further into the whole mobile-first mentality Quibi presents to its user base.
Here’s the thing: people – in general – still like regular television. 30-60 minute episodes, good cinematography, strong characters, and compelling story lines are staples that make for good viewing experiences regardless of your content provider. Quibi has most of that, but it veers off with the super-short episode idea and honestly feels new and fresh because of it. Everything else that makes for a good streaming experience, Quibi brings to the table. In our standard, pre-COVID-19, go-go-go world, quick bite shows like what we see on Quibi made a lot of sense.
But when the pandemic hit, many things changed. All of the sudden, the on-the-go normal was replaced with ‘shelter in place’ and ‘safe at home.’ In that reality, quick episodes and on-the-go viewing became immediately less interesting for many users. Instead, many of us had tons more time to consume more content. With people at home with more time on their hands, Quibi clearly had a two-sided problem. Short episodes get consumed very quickly and no one wants to do so on their phone when their nice TV is sitting only a few feet away. When commutes, appointments, and work breaks were all still in play, Quibi’s phone-only model was liberating. In our new reality, it just feels limiting.
Where big screen playback may not have been on the radar before (Quibi launched as an unapologetically mobile-only experience), Quibi now needs to shift and get things working on the television. Thankfully, they’ve done so quite quickly upon announcing it last week, and we now have the ability to easily cast those well-made, quick-hit episodes to the TV via Chromecast. Even better, it already works on Android, iOS and Chrome OS, so there are plenty of ways to get your shows up on what is likely the largest screen in your home.
At this point, the Chromecast may be Quibi’s saving grace. Unfortunately, the service launched at a terrible time for a mobile, on-the-go app and the relatively-small subscriber base proves that out. Giving users the ability to consume the great content that is currently available on the service in the way that they really want to at this point in history could be a big move for Quibi. While I don’t think they’ll approach Netflix or Disney+’s gaudy subscriber numbers any time soon, Quibi has some big stars and great content that is a good fit for a lot of viewers. With a bit more buzz and a way to view the service that people are more comfortable with, I still think they have a shot at staying around. Perhaps this course correction will be enough to get them through COVID-19 so that on the other side of it, the mobile-first mentality of Quibi will finally have the chance to stretch its legs a bit. I, for one, hope that’s the case.