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FIRST LOOK: Quibi Mobile Streaming Service Review - Should You Subscribe?

Jason Gurwin

Anyone with content seems to launching a streaming service these days. Whether it was Disney+ and Apple TV+ in November — or the upcoming launches of NBCU’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

But this one is different.

Quibi, the brainchild of Dreamworks’ Founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Former eBay CEO, Meg Whitman, isn’t trying to be Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. The name, Quibi, short for quick-bites, takes high-quality content and break its into 5-10 minute chapters.

Quibi has three types of shows: movies released chapters (7-10 minutes), docu-series & reality shows (5-7 minutes), and “Daily Essentials”, which recap the day in news, sports, and entertainment. For nearly a week, The Streamable has taken Quibi for a deep-dive — exploring the app & functionality and watching hours of content.

Quibi Video Review

Plans & Pricing

For the month of April, all subscribers are given a 90-Day Free Trial of Quibi. After that, there are two plans, $5 (with ads) and $8 (without). If you are a T-Mobile subscriber, there is a good chance that you’ll get a year free of service.

Unlike services like Netflix ($10-$16), Disney+ ($7), Hulu ($5), and Amazon Prime Video ($9) which offer user profiles and multiple streams on their plans, Quibi is designed for one user. That means you won’t be able to share an account with your family or “extended family.”

Supported Devices

The service is 100% designed for mobile. In-fact there aren’t apps available for your streaming player — and you can’t use AirPlay or Cast to your big screen. You also won’t be able to access Quibi from your browser.

The good news is their mobile apps are extremely well designed, polished, and performant. They have mobile apps for both iPhone and Android. While there is no official iPad app, you can install it on your iPad (as a scaled version of the iPad App).

Features

Home Feed

After subscribing, you are taken to a “For You” tab, which over time will show the most relevant content based on what you watch. That can include shows to “Continue Watching” or alerts of “New Episodes.” All shows on the screen display a muted “auto-playing” trailer, which you can turn up the volume on the top right.

If you tap on an episode, it will instantly begin playing the episode in your “queue.” If you tap and hold, you will be given an episode description, as well as options to see all episode, follow a show, or download it to watch it offline.

Search & Browse

If you don’t find a show to watch in your “For You” queue, you can still browse all of Quibi’s content from the “Browse” tab. From there it displays “Trending” shows, “Daily Essentials”, “New Releases”, “Continue Watching”, and categories like “Laugh Out Loud.”

Quibi also has intelligent search with the ability to search by shows or genre — like “food.” The search results bring up relevant shows, as well as individual episodes you might want to check out.

Following Shows

When you “Follow” a show, it’s similar to bookmarking it. Now it will appear in your “Following” tab and you can have it send you push alerts every time a new episode is released.

Offline Downloads

All content on Quibi is available to download offline, regardless whether you’re on the ad-supported or ad-free plan. When you a download a show on the ad-supported plan, you will watch a 10-15 second ad before the download starts. There are no limits on the amount of content you can download except on the storage of your device.

Playback on Quibi

When you want to watch an episode you can just tap on it and it starts playing. All the content is shot in both horizontal and vertical video — and merged together using a technology called “Turnstyle”.

Turnstyle

At CES, Quibi unveiled their Turnstyle technology which seamlessly lets you switch from portrait to landscape, without lag, and see a special cut designed for that orientation.

Ads

If you have the ad-supported plan, which most on the 90-Day Free Trial will, when you play a show you will see an unskippable 10-15 second pre-roll ad. The service is launching with 10 exclusive ad partners like Pepsi, T-Mobile, P&G, and Google.

Performance

At no point did we have issues streaming Quibi. The streams were high-quality with no buffering at all either on Wi-Fi or cellular.

Shows on Quibi

Quibi is unlike other streaming services, as it’s made up of exclusively original content. The service offers movies in chapters that are 7 to 10 minutes in length, unscripted series & docs, and “Daily Essentials” that recap news, sports, and entertainment.

At launch, the service has 50 shows including Survive, Most Dangerous Game, Thanks A Million, Chrissy’s Court, Murder House Flip, Last Night’s Late Night, and The Replay by ESPN. Over the course of the first year, Quibi will launch 175 original shows and 8,500 quick bites of content.

The reality shows, docu-series, and movies in chapters will be released every weekday, while some Daily Essentials are released twice a day, and with a single episode on weekends.

A full list of shows available at launch can be viewed here.

Docu-Series & Reality

At launch, Quibi offers nearly 20 unscripted or docu-series including reboots of Punk’d, Singled Out, Dishmantled and Chrissy’s Court, a “Judge Judy” like show with Chrissy Teigen.

“Thanks a Million”

One of the best shows on the service is “Thanks a Million”, which sees 10 celebrities gifting $100,000 to a person that made an impact on their life. That person then has to continue a “gratitude” chain and give half it to someone who did the same to them.

While Quibi is designed to be watched in the moments of downtime, like your bus ride (when we start doing that type of thing again) — just know it’s going to get a little “dusty.” It’s a show that feels so good, especially now in at time when all we hear is bad news.

“Dishmantled”

For those that like “Nailed It!” on Netflix or “Chopped” on Food Network, “Dishmantled” has a similar vibe. It’s a fun cooking show, where two cooks are asked to recreate a dish that got blown up by a cannon in their face.

“Punk’d”

The service also has brought back two MTV shows, with “Punk’d” and “Singled Out!” Both shows actually feel better designed for Quibi than they were ever for MTV. And what I mean is, in 2020, a show like “Punk’d” feels meant to be a YouTube-length style clip (~5 minutes) rather than a 22 minute episode on cable.

Movies in Chapters

Over the month of April, Quibi will have feature length films from stars like Liam Hemsworth, Christoph Waltz, Will Forte, Kaitlin Olson, Eva Longoria, Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, and Rachel Brosnahan. The movies are released in 7 to 10 minute chapters.

At the outset, there are four movies available to stream — with five more coming throughout the rest of the month. Each “movie” has a different number of chapters, but one upcoming “movie” #Freerayshawn has 15 episodes for example.

The movies feel more like high-quality hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies, than feature length films.

“Flipped”

For instance, “Flipped” starring Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson, tells the story of — Jann and Cricket think they have what it takes to become TV’s newest house-flipping couple. Unfortunately, a Mexican drug cartel thinks so too. Now the delusional duo has to survive their newest project — renovating the cartel’s mansions.

The show feels similar to what you would see on an NBC comedy like “Superstore” or “My Name is Earl” (from years past). It’s entertaining, funny, and you will want to keep watching. Each episode ends at what feels like would normally be the point of a show going into a commercial break — but instead, the episode ends and the reveal happens the next day.

“Most Dangerous Game”

One of the most high profile shows is “Most Dangerous Game” in which Dodge Maynard (Liam Hemsworth), trying to take care of his pregnant wife before a terminal illness can take his life, accepts an offer to participate in a deadly game where he’s the prey.

This has a very “24” feel to it, where every episode is fast-paced as Hemsworth is hunted by those participating in the game. Of the shows I watched, it was the one show that I was most excited to see what happened next.

“Survive”

“Survive” is probably the highest quality of the “movies” available at launch.

Jane (Sophie Turner) wants to end it all. Then a plane crash almost ends it for her. Now she’s crawling from the wreckage with the only other survivor (Corey Hawkins) and a new drive to stay alive.

Daily Essentials

Quibi includes “Daily Essentials”, curated daily into 5-6 minute quick bites of news, entertainment and inspiration. Since these are shot daily, it has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. Most which would have been normally shot in a studio and now being shot remotely in the host’s homes.

We recognize that may be having an impact on the quality of content, but “Daily Essentials” were the most disappointing of the content on there. For the most part, the news and entertainment “bites” are similar to what you would find on social platforms like Twitter, Snapchat or the news network’s own YouTube channels.

To me, this bulks out the content, rather than being content worth paying for.

Should You Subscribe to Quibi?

This is the $1.75 billion dollar question. There have been many skeptics on whether or not a mobile streaming service is needed in a world with what seems like unlimited, inexpensive content.

Quibi isn’t expensive, but feels expensive.

At $5 a month with ads, it’s only a $1 less than Hulu, which gets you 2,000 TV shows and 1,000 movies as compared to the 20 and 5 on Quibi. Also, a service like Hulu is designed to be shared by your whole family, while Quibi is meant for one single streamer.

Similarly, it seems equally expensive when you compare it to Disney+ ($7), which includes originals and the entire movie library from Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and Disney — and can be shared with four people at the same time.

Sure, the content is different, the context of how you’re supposed to be using it is different, but whereas you can’t do without a service like Netflix at this point, Quibi doesn’t feel that way.

And that is not a knock on the content, technology, or app.

The content is very good — and I’m a believer that high-quality short-form video should exist. As someone who watches a ton of reality TV — shows like “Dishmantled”, “Punk’d”, and “Thanks A Million” are as good as anything you would see on cable or other streaming services.

Their “movies” in chapters like “Survive” and “Most Dangerous Game” aren’t premium channel (HBO, Showtime, etc) quality, but the shows are what you would expect from shows on network, cable, or streaming — and will get you to want to keep watching every day.

Their app is one of the most well-designed and intuitive streaming apps. They’ve thought of simple things like “tap to hold” during playback to mute and start captions. There’s a vertical progress bar to skip ahead or rewind when the video is in portrait (there’s even a special setting to switch it to the other side if you’re left-handed).

I do wish they added a way to keep playing audio, when you leave the app, which is bound to happen when you’re answering text or checking emails on-the-go.

“Turnstyle” is gimmicky for the most part. You’re not going to be constantly switching from portrait to landscape video, so the need for it to happen instantaneously just isn’t there. Also, most of the content I watched, largely behaved like other portrait video, going tight on a single subject instead of a two-shot — and panning-and-zooming from one speaker to another.

It didn’t actually bother me that there was no TV app, but for the sake of success I think they’re missing out by not having them. There are nearly 75 million active Fire TV and Roku users — with ad platforms that can drive new users to the service. As a streamer, it would also be nice to share an episode on the big screen with someone who hasn’t used Quibi before.

I’m no oracle, but it’s hard to see Quibi reach massive scale as a standalone streaming service. I’ve enjoyed my experience with Quibi — and for T-Mobile subscribers getting it for free, it’s a great value-add, and seems to be the perfect addition to a mobile bundle.

In fact, if this is what Apple rolled out as Apple TV+, everyone would have called it innovative, creative, and an evolution of streaming media. I wouldn’t be surprised if other streaming services take inspiration from Quibi and design mobile-first content for on-the-go.

However, as a standalone streaming service, if I had $20-30 to spend on content every month, I don’t think Quibi would make the cut. It’s hard to justify subscribing to a service intended for a single person, with a smaller library than one you can share with others in your family.

The good news is, that at least for now, it won’t cost you anything to make that decision for yourself. The service is giving away a 90-Day Free Trial throughout the month of April. Try it out and let us know what you think.

All Quibi Shows Available at Launch

Movies in Chapters

  • Most Dangerous Game: Stars Liam Hemsworth, Christoph Waltz in a dystopian action-thriller
  • When The Streetlights Go On: Chosen Jacobs, Sophie Thatcher, Queen Latifah – murder of a young suburban girl
  • Survive: Sophie Turner, Corey Hawkins survive a plane crash, but fight to stay alive in a remote area
  • Flipped: Will Forte, Kaitlin Olson renovate a Mexican drug lord’s home

Unscripted and Docs

  • Thanks a Million: Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Bell gift deserving people $100K; they must play it forward
  • Chrissy’s Court: Chrissy Teigen becomes a judge and delivers real-life decisions.
  • Punk’d: Chance the Rapper pulls pranks on big Hollywood stars.
  • Murder House Flip: Renovating infamous homes where murders occurred.
  • Elba v Block: Idris Elba, Ken Block pit cars against each other, outrageous stunts included.
  • Skrrt With Offset: Offset raps about cars with celebrity friends.
  • Nikki Fre$h: Nicole Richie’s alter ego, Nikki Fre$h, goes socially conscious about the world
  • &Music: Unsung artists behind the biggest musical stars, like Ariana Grande.
  • Fierce Queens: Reese Witherspoon presents a nature series about the females of the animal kingdom
  • Prodigy: Highlights young athletes of unprecedented ability
  • Gone Mental With Lior: Lior Suchard, a top mentalist. Kate Hudson, Ben Stiller get their minds read.
  • Singled Out: All genders/sexual preferences on the dating landscape, but linked via social media.
  • Gayme Show!: Celebrates LGBTQ+ community, hosted by comedians Matt Rogers and Dave Mizzoni.
  • Dishmantled: A cooking show hosted by Tituss Burgess.
  • You Ain’t Got These: Sneaker culture featuring Carmelo Anthony, Lena Waithe and more.

Daily Essentials

  • 60 in 6 by CBS News: A new, shortened edition of classic “60 Minutes”
  • Last Night’s Late Night: Celebrates late-night TV each morning. Heather Gardner hosts.
  • The Daily Chill: Guided meditations
  • The Rachel Hollis Show: The bestselling author inspires, motivates.
  • Sexology with Shan Boodram: The intimacy expert shows how to navigate the realities of sex.
  • Fashion’s a Drag: Model/actress Willam Belli, supermodel Denise Bidot kick back with drag queens.
  • The Nod With Brittany & Eric: Based on podcast, explores key concerns of black culture.
  • Various Broadcasters have shows, such as BBC News, NBC News, Telemundo, Weather Channel, ESPN