If, like the majority of internet users, you have been spending a little more time online during this crisis, you might have seen advertisements for another new streaming service. This one goes by the curious name of Quibi.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of viral marketing, these ads are a bit short on details. So I found myself asking, ‘What is it?’
Quibi is short for “quick bites.” Following the trend set by Vine, whose videos were around seven seconds long, Quibi endeavors to fit bite-sized morsels of high-quality entertainment into your busy day.
The content on Quibi is only around ten minutes per episode. But the shows currently on the platform have such big-name stars as Zac Efron, Chrissy Teigen, and Chance the Rapper.
This week, Quibi cancelled one of its upcoming shows, a drama about Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat. Imagine watching The Social Network, but in ten-minute episodes.
Quibi has made a bit of a splash in recent weeks. Launched on April 6, the service declined to advertise through traditional media, opting instead to focus on mobile users. You can’t download the Quibi app on Roku, smart TVs, game systems, or your computer.
The service is the brainchild of notorious mover and shaker Jeffrey Katzenberg. It was founded in August of 2018, pulling in $1 billion from such diverse investors as
NBC Universal, Viacom, Alibaba group, and, strangely, Disney.
I say ‘strangely’ because of Katzenberg’s other big game changing startup. Dreamworks Films.
In 1994, Katzenberg was forced to resign from Disney, after tensions between himself and then CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner. Katzenberg teamed up with Steven Spielberg and the now infamous David Geffen to form a studio in retaliation.
Dreamworks would become massively successful, with such animated films as The Prince of Egypt in 1998 and The Road to El Dorado in 2000. But the biggest blow came in 2001, when Katzenberg’s personal hate letter to Disney and Eisner came out.
The entire plot of the first Shrek film was conceived as a giant middle finger to Disney and Eisner, from the creepy commercialized land of Duloc to Lord Farquaad, an unflattering caricature of Eisner.
So, why then does Katzenberg, a mainstream Hollywood bigshot, want to start a billion dollar company that only makes ten-minute long shows, using money from his former employer, Disney?
Probably because of young people.
In a response to complaints from users , Quibi has said that you will soon be able to watch their content on other platforms, such as computers and TVs. But to get young people interested, you have to make it a mobile app. At least, in the minds of 60+ year old, rich, white executives.
Katzenberg is a heavy hitter, a lightning-rod for the movie industry. He loves to push the envelope and be on the bleeding edge of every format. In 2010, he appeared on the Colbert Report, and told the host that, from then on, every animated movie from Dreamworks would be in 3D.
Dreamworks Animation, of course, has changed over time; it was spun-off into a separate entity in 2004. In 2016, it was acquired by NBC Universal for $3.8 billion.
One Quibi show that has me scratching my head is Chrissy’s Court. The show is a ten minute long reality show set in a courtroom. Chrissy Teigen (model, cookbook author, and wife of John Legend) portrays a courtroom judge, while her mom is dressed as a bailiff. They arbitrate disagreements, and hilarity ensues.
Okay, so, sorry, but, exactly what the hell is happening? Chrissy Teigen? Are we really going to let Chrissy Teigen tell us,”Hey, I’m Judge Judy now?”
Chrissy Teigen is funny, witty, and smart. Great. But Judge Judy Sheindlin actually attended LAW SCHOOL. She served as an actual, real life judge for several years. Isn’t that supposed to be the point?
In 2019, a Facebbok ad was circulated, searching for participants for Chrissy’s show. The post indicated that ‘No argument is too petty.’ Some examples they give are a significant other watching your show without you, or a bad roommate.
Alright, fair enough. Clearly they just want to see what can be done in a ten minute format, and they have Chrissy around, so why not?
But here’s where it gets a bit silly; just like Judge Judy, or similar courtroom style shows, the decisions made by Chrissy are legally binding arbitration.
The plaintiff and defendant have, before the show, agreed to abide by the ruling of a random celebrity person, and must live with that decision. That, to me, is a little unsettling.
Another show on Quibi’s roster is an adaptation of the short story The Most Dangerous Game, about a rich man that hunts humans for sport. The Quibi version stars Christoph Waltz, and the second most famous Hemsworth, Liam.
Zac Efron’s show, the ingeniously titled Killing Zac Efron, sees the Baywatch star and his brother being airlifted into dangerous wilderness, and then trying to survive.
(Spoiler alert; I think he survives.)