Claire (gingerywilson) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
Claire
gingerywilson
ohnotheydidnt

ONTD Original: What the Fuck is a Quibi

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Quibi feels like, and in a way is, a parody of a content provider. In a parallel universe, Quibi isn’t an actual thing you can spend money on, it’s the show-within-a-show of a TV sitcom. The idea of ‘quick bites’ (or as their marketing insists on saying, ‘quibis’) for young people on the go, who are always on their darn phones, feels like a caricature of what an out-of-touch CEO would say. Yet here we are, living in a world where executives don’t realize that for millenials with busy schedules there is already a solution to longer content - the pause button.

How did we get to this point, where even in the midst of a global pandemic giving a lot of people tons of downtime, when streaming is more popular than ever, that Quibi can barely stay in the public consciousness? Join me for a story of Petty Assholes™ and failed gubernatorial elections, for $1.8 billion-dollar investments and no foresight, and for content so basic it hurts.

We must document Quibi because, a generation from now, no one will believe something this stupid ever existed.



DEVELOPMENT

Quibi, or as it was originally named, NewTV (cool), is the brain child of Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg envisioned original programming, meant to be shorter than 10 minutes, that would be available on a mobile-only streaming service. Even as early as 2018, Katzenberg was cocky about the project, “We don’t consider this competitive with Hulu, or HBO, or Netflix, or the networks,” he said, “it’s a completely different use case.” [1]

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Let’s pause for a moment - who is Jeffrey Katzenberg? Jeffrey Katzenberg, noted petty asshole [2], was once the studio chairman at Disney, overseeing the much-lauded Disney renaissance of the mid 80s to mid 90s before being ousted in a coup/leaving in a huff to co-found Dreamworks animation. Katzenberg has been described as “Machiavellian” with an “ego and almost pathological need to be important.” [3]

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Katzenberg tapped Meg Whitman for the CEO position not too long after founding the company, and she is a whole other can of worms. Whitman gained notoriety as the CEO of Ebay over the course of a decade, which saw the company make such baffling decisions as acquiring Skype, a move which eventually lost over $1 billion dollars [4]. She then went on to fuck up Hewlett Packard, I guess having figured Carly Fiorina hadn’t done a thorough enough job. Like Fiorina, Whitman also ran a vanity campaign, running as a Reublican for Governor in California in 2010. This is especially hilarious, considering she had not voted in 28 years. [5]

Katzenberg and Whitman were able to shore up $1.8 Billion USD in funding from major studios for Quibi [6], a figure which is truly baffling. One has to wonder if the money is pledged by executives who live in the 30 Rock universe and were once thrilled by Devon Banks’s pioneering of 10-second TV.






PRE-LAUNCH

Quibi poured between $400 - $500 Million USD in to marketing [7], including an expensive superbowl spot. In doing my research, people told me these ads were ubiquitous. I have adblock and no cable so IDK ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

A big part of the marketing push is in trying to make “quibi” not just a brand, but a descriptive unit of time. Because we all know what people love is when trends are pushed on them, and corporate sounding buzzwords are forced into situations where they don’t belong. See also: “Bing it!”



But that isn’t to say there was no hype at all. For a while, it seemed like every day some new A-Lister was inking a deal to produce content for Quibi, and the Reno 911! Reboot drew some interest - although cynically, one commenter noted “hopefully once whatever Quibi is fails they get picked up by Netflix or Hulu.” [8]

Quibi saw a fan-made podcast, produced by seemingly the only two stans the platform will ever have, called ‘Quibiverse’ pop up, which covered news on recent announcements of new shows and content. In March just weeks before launch, Quibi went ahead and sent a cease-and-desist to the duo imploring them to remove “Quibi” from their title and not to use any artwork deemed too similar to their branding. “It just felt so surreal to get a cease-and-desist from a billion-dollar company, about our fan podcast, in the midst of a global health crisis” [9]. The podcasters quickly rebounded, renaming their show ‘Streamiverse’ and declaring it “a podcast rooted entirely in spite” [10] where they regularly dunk on Quibi content.





CONTENT

Quibi is going for short-form content, but most of the shows offered are just longer stories with the commerical breaks built in. They are banking on their core demographic being 25-35 year olds [11], a move which confuses me as someone smack in the middle of that age range. My eyes are too tired for small screens and my attention span is too long for Tik Tok. The question that comes up over and over again is who is this for?

At least, I figured, it was free. You can imagine my surprise when I signed up in preparation for this ONTD original and it asked for TEN OF MY HARD EARNED CANADIAN DOLLARS. Yes, there is a free trial and yes, I will be cancelling before I’m charged. Where I live, Quibi is the same price at Netflix and Crave, and more expensive than Prime, Disney+, Apple TV, and oodles more expensive than CBC Gem which is free (thank you and please continue to pay your taxes so I get Schitt’s Creek content thanks y’all).

The limitations of Quibi’s platform are readily apparent. Their gimmick of being able to hold your phone vertically or horizontally to stream shows loses its appeal after trying it once or twice (and even then, the main menu to browse shows only works vertically). There are other tacky attempts at novelty, like the upcoming Spielberg’s After Dark which will only allow users to stream content after the sun goes down [12]. Can you imagine going to university four or five years, earning a degree in computer science, only to graduate and be asked to program a clock that lets users watch a lackluster 8 minute show? What a bummer.

Katzenberg, who is notoriously anti-piracy [13], has extended this as far as anti-sharing - it is not possible to screen record or even screencap their content. The most viral moment any of their shows has had was recorded on another phone and posted to Twitter. That being said, it doesn’t even seem like anyone is trying to pirate their content - take from that what you will.



Want to watch a show on your laptop instead of phone? Too bad. Want to Chomecast to your TV? Too bad. Quibi is built solely for tablets and mobile devices, an unbelievably stupid oversight that still hasn’t been fixed five weeks after launch.





FALL OFF

Quibi has quickly and quietly plummeted from the top-downloaded apps lists, currently sitting at number 125 on the iTunes chart and their daily active users is about 1.3 million, about a third of their total downloads [14]. If you consider their marketing budget, it means each of those people probably cost them hundreds of dollars to acquire. Time will tell how many will drop off after their free trial ends, but Google trends indicates things are not looking good.

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Users aren’t the only ones unsure about Quibi. Over the past few months executives have been dropping like flies [15], and the company is facing legal trouble as a company called Eko sues them over screen rotation technology [16]. And while no legal actions are currently being taken, the makers of Everything is Terrible! sure have noticed some similarities.



Recently, Katzenberg granted an interview with the New York times in which he proclaims all of Quibi’s shortcomings are due to the current situation with COVID 19. “I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus,” he says, “it’s not close to what we wanted.” [17]

Public ridicule of Quibi has been swift and delightful, with users noting not only how disappointing the platform is, but its enormous cost as well.


















I ACTUALLY WATCHED THIS FOR YOU

I figured it was only fair to give this content a try. This is time in my life I will never get back, when I am lying on my death-bed one day I am sure I will have regrets about what else I could have done with these precious moments (sorry, precious quibis) instead of watching these dumb shows.

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50 States of Fright

From Sam Raimi comes this anthology show so blissfully tone deaf that it circles right back around to hilarious. It is unbelievably bad horror - I’ve seen some Raimi defender’s claim it is supposed to be camp/B horror, but all the marketing plays it straight. The first story did remind me of Graph vs Host from Arrested Development, though, so that was fun.

★☆☆☆☆ Unironically
★★★★★ Ironically

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Chrissy’s Court

The nicest thing I can say is that her mom is the bailiff and that’s cute I guess. Other than that it’s just like Teigen’s twitter feed came to life - you can decide for yourself how much that appeals to you.

★★☆☆☆

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Dummy

This project, based on the relationship between Cody Heller and Dan Harmon, starts out strong with the charming joke that Anna Kendrick is too ugly (????) to be sexually harassed, and just keeps going downhill from there. This felt like it was meant to be a movie, Quibi acquired it, so now it is a show I guess.

☆☆☆☆☆

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Most Dangerous Game

You know what, I did not hate it. It was dumb and predictable, but it was enjoyable enough to throw in the background while I formatted the sources of this post. Liam Hemsworth stars as Dodge Tynes (do you get it?? because he is dodging death???), a terminally ill man who doesn't want to leave his wife "penniless" when they clearly live a middle-class life and, like, own a home which is a lot more than most people.

★★★★☆

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Murder House Flip

Here is my guess - Jeffrey Katzenberg has a 14 year old granddaughter or niece or something who loves My Favourite Murder, and a wife who loves HGTV, and figured he was on to something. The premise is actually kinda interesting, but the show itself is surface level on both the murder and home reno content which makes it pretty dull.

★★☆☆☆

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Reno 911!

I’ve never watched the original (sorry), but this was probably the best thing I watched on Quibi. The shorter format actually works pretty well for this kind of sketch/improv and I did chortle.

★★★★☆

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When the Streetlights Go On

The soundtrack is great. The show is okay. No further comments.

★★★☆☆



WORKS CITED
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

IMAGE SOURCES
1 + me on photoshop, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

EMBEDED SOURCES
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Tags: eat the rich, flop, ontd original, television, web series / youtube
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