Quit trying to make Quibi happen
Added 04-06-20 12:09:03am EST - “Nobody asked for Quibi. Nobody, that is, except for Jeffrey Katzenberg, the founder of Dreamworks Pictures and famed Hollywood producer. Where other mobile video startups failed, like Samsung's long-forgotten Milk Video and Verizon's…” - Engadget.com
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Nobody asked for Quibi. Nobody, that is, except for Jeffrey Katzenberg, the founder of Dreamworks Pictures and famed Hollywood producer. Where other mobile video startups failed, like Samsung’s long-forgotten Milk Video and Verizon's own Go90 (RIP), Katzenberg figured he could succeed by pouring money (somehow he’s raised $1.75 billion so far!) into top talent and well produced shows. At CES in January, Quibi also revealed its core innovation, Turnstyle, which allows you to seamlessly switch between portrait and vertical video playback modes.
I was intrigued by that technology at the time. The company's chief product officer, Tom Conrad, the former CTO of Pandora and Snapchat product VP, also seemed excited about its potential. Still, it was hard to truly judge Quibi until I got a look at some of its shows. And after spending a few days with the app, which launches today, I can't say I'm impressed. Sure, Katzenberg and crew managed to bring some professional-looking "quick bites" of entertainment to phones, but the shows I’ve seen aren’t nearly as compelling as anything on Netflix or Hulu. And their slick production values makes it harder to connect with Quibi shows than your favorite YouTube personality.
Why, exactly, would anyone want to pay $5 a month (it’s also launching with a 90-day free trial) for this stuff -- especially when you still have to deal with ads and can't even watch it on other screens? Quibi CEO Meg Whitman had an answer for me at CES, though it’s not entirely convincing: "We think we're a third category of this on-the-go viewing opportunity that people will make room for in their entertainment budget, because it's going to be great content for a mobile use-case."
But that logic is difficult to follow after watching several episodes of Dishmantled, a cooking show hosted by Titus Burgess that's part hyper-accelerated Chopped, part voyeuristically punishing Japanese gameshow. In every 5 minute episode, chefs are blindfolded and assaulted by an exploding mystery dish. Their goal: To eat the disgusting remnants from the floor and walls to figure out what that dish actually is, and cook it within 30 minutes. It feels more like a parody cooking show from 30 Rock, than something on a legitimate network.
Don't get me wrong, it’s entertaining in a trashy TV way, so I'm sure it'll find some fans. But five minutes isn't enough time to build the drama you'd find in an episode of Chopped or Top Chef. Every contestant looks like they've been pulled right out of a cooking line, and every celebrity guest seems a bit drunk and confused. The entire endeavor, much like Quibi itself, feels like a complete waste of time and resources while we're facing a worldwide global pandemic. In an era where people are losing their jobs and stuck waiting in long grocery store lines, all the while avoiding an invisible threat just to feed their families, literally blowing up food seems unconscionable.
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