Last summer, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg announced plans to launch a new short-form video streaming platform called Quibi. During Super Bowl LIV, the service introduced itself to the world with a very clever and highly viewed commercial. Recently, the platform released three trailers teasing its star-studded original series.
Though Quibi will be entering a crowded field when it goes live on April 6, its initial offerings look intriguing.
Quibi’s Original Series
First off, Quibi put out a teaser for a reality competition series called “Elba vs. Block.” The program will pit acclaimed actor Idris Elba against professional rally car driver Ken Block in a series of driving contents. The show’s bombastic teaser features gravity-defying go-cart races, monster truck demolitions, and thrilling crash course racing.
While “Elba vs. Block” has a somewhat absurd premise, its teaser makes it seem like a “Top Gear” style romp.
Next, “Flipped” follows Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”) and Kaitlin Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) as two wannabe renovation TV celebrities. While filming their rehabilitation of a dilapidated house, the pair uncovers a stash of $500,000. The couple uses the money to become HGTV-style stars. But the gangster (Arturo Castro, “Broad City”) who unintentionally funded their rise to fame has other plans for them.
As a melding of “Fixer Upper” and “Breaking Bad,” “Flipped” has a smart concept to go with its top-flight cast.
Lastly, “24” alum Kiefer Sutherland and “Narcos” star Boyd Holbrook headline a reimagining of “The Fugitive.” In it, Sutherland plays an LAPD detective in pursuit of an ex-convict accused of bombing a subway station. However, Holbrook’s character didn’t commit the crime and is desperate to prove his innocence.
In addition to the above-listed series, Quibi will also launch with a reboot of MTV’s “Punk’d” starring Chance the Rapper. The streaming platform has also commissioned a new horror series from director Steven Spielberg, a revival of “Reno: 911!” and a serialized remake of “Varsity Blues.”
Can Quibi Succeed?
Of all the subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming services to debut recently, Quibi’s prospects are the most difficult to parse.
On the one hand, the platform stands out from the pack because of the format of its content. The service only hosts videos that run between four to 10 minutes long. Moreover, the SVOD is only accessible on mobile devices and features programming optimized for portrait or landscape viewing.
Quibi, which is a portmanteau of “quick bites,” isn’t trying to appeal to consumers with binge-watchable TV series that tell one story over 10-13 hours. Instead, the service wants to introduce serialized narratives to audiences that consume short videos in their idle time.
As such, Quibi’s founders deserve credit for trying to disrupt an established industry with genuinely new ideas. However, the service might alienate consumers who are accustomed to engrossing season-long stories.
Furthermore, Quibi is launching at a time when the streaming space has never been more competitive. In addition to established players like Hulu and Netflix, consumers can now peruse high-quality content from Disney+ and Apple TV+. Also, Comcast’s Peacock SVOD and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max are going live this spring.
Quibi risks getting lost in the shuffle because it lacks the marketing resources of a multinational conglomerate. But the service may be able to carve out a niche based on the quality of its programming and uniqueness of its formatting.