What Is Quibi — and Do You Need It?


The latest streaming service made its debut today, but already things are looking less than great for Quibi.

As so many of us are self-isolating at home, streaming numbers for Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ are higher than ever. We’re binge-watching entire seasons of television in a single sitting, but Quibi hopes that there’s an audience for short-format series with episodes that are just four to ten minutes long.

What Is Quibi?

Before we get started, Quibi is pronounced “kwi-bee,” which is short for “quick bites.” Which, if we’re being honest, is a little too clever for its own good. People should be able to pronounce the name of your thing!

Quibi promises premium content exclusively on your phone. That’s right: you can’t watch these mini-episode series on your TV or computer. They’ve been specially formatted for phone screens. This feature is frustrating to viewers that are used to being able to watch their content on any device.

It also faces stiff competition from free content platform TikTok, as well as YouTube (which is available on more platforms). So what does Quibi offer that could make it worth adding to your list of streaming services?

Is Quibi Worth Installing?

Led by former Disney CEO and DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Quibi has pulled in major talent–and major funding. Katzenberg raised $1.75 billion in funding from investors. He also convinced big-name directors like Steven Spielberg, Catherine Hardwicke, Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro to create content for the platform.

You can watch 10-minute episodes of reality shows, dramas, and comedies starring familiar actors. Here’s a few of the highlights:

  • “Survive” starring Sophie Turner
  • “Most Dangerous Game” starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz
  • “Flipped” starring Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson
  • “Punk’d” revival hosted by Chance the Rapper
  • “Thanks a Million” with Jennifer Lopez
  • “Chrissy’s Court” hosted by Chrissy Teigen

We haven’t yet heard about any privacy concerns with the app, although cloud services security is always something to consider. Whenever you install third-party apps on your phone, you’re trusting them with a lot of your personal data.

Will Quibi Be a Success?

In a pre-coronavirus world, Quibi made a lot more sense. You could watch an entire episode of TV on your phone during one of the many pauses and lulls throughout the day. Now, most of our days are all lull, except for workers in essential fields like healthcare.

The good news is that you can try Quibi for free. There’s no charge for the first three months, but after that the price will be $5 with ads or $8 ad-free. But after months of hype, the first-day downloads of the app appear to be less than 10% of first-day Disney+ subscribers. Ouch!