Enjoy 90 days free. Limited Time. Hurry, it’ll be gone in a Quibi.
— Quibi (@Quibi) March 9, 2020
In 2018, Jeffrey Katzenberg came up with an idea that he hoped would revolutionize entertainment. The brains behind the Disney renaissance, Katzenberg helmed the studio through its resurgence in relevance in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and then launched DreamWorks to start several more classic franchises. The idea he hoped would be a similar renaissance for how media is consumed: Quibi.
The platform would provide streaming content like Netflix, Hulu, Hayu, or Disney+, but there would be a catch. Nothing would last longer than 10 minutes – the average time it takes to have a break. Launching in April 2020, is Quibi changing the way media is consumed or is it following the inevitable trend of what consumers want to engage with?
Quick Bites, Big Stories
Quibi’s slogan – Quick Bites. Big Stories – sums the concept up perfectly. The app provides both fiction and non-fiction shows in episodes of 10 minutes or less. Content already touted includes Chrissy’s Court – where Chrissy Teigen presides over spats and issues a la Judge Judy to the remake of The Fugitive, to Spielberg’s After Dark horror show. The platform promises three types of show: factual docuseries which feed our thirst for knowledge in a short timeframe, movies broken into digestible bites, and news roundups. The platform is perfect for those who want a short break, have a commute, or simply have 10 minutes to kill.
Living the American Stream
Streaming sites are extremely popular. Video streaming market size is expected to grow 19.6% from 2019 to reach around $124.57bn by 2025. Netflix alone sees a revenue increase of around 25% year-on-year and attracts many different audiences with different tastes. So, the industry is definitely where the money is. But there has already been saturation, with multinationals such as Apple and Amazon ramping up their content output. So, with so much choice, people might want something simpler, or something that can be digested more quickly – like Quibi.
Quibi looks set to revolutionize the industry. It is streaming but done differently. The initial pull of being able to binge-watch in its entirety has evolved to the streaming platform being the studio that makes weekly content. Weekly episodes are still popular – The Good Place, RuPaul’s Drag Race etc. – were all released in the weekly, serialized way. So, releasing weekly short-form content should work the same way. However, with 60% suggesting they binge-watch more than two episodes at a time, producing weekly content in this manner might be too slow a burn.
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) March 8, 2020
The Rise of Short-Form Content
Short-form content doesn’t necessarily mean viewers’ attention span is short, but it means they want to get into the narrative, the characters, and the story quickly and take the essence from it. This isn’t particularly new – abridged books have been published to offer the bitesize, important aspects of classic texts for decades.
The success in its heyday of Vine – with 40 million users – and TikTok now – with 60 million active users – shows just how much people want to be able to engage in a limited way. A short video on the platform can be used to sum up ideas, provide comedy, showcase skills, or just provide something to watch. Plus, they are easier to share on other social media platforms: 32% of Twitter users claim they log on to watch videos. TikTok is considering expanding into other forms of short-form content.
The world of gaming has also moved towards short-form content. Hyper casual games have grown in popularity, with mobile apps such as Hole.io, Sky Ball, Terranium, Paint Hit, and Dodgeball Duel offering quick-fire levels and bitesize gaming experiences. These games provide the same engagement but can be played for a shorter amount of time per level.
As Betway shows with some of its video slot games, even the world of iGaming is embracing the popularity of being able to play games for as long or short a time as players want. The site offers entertainment that reach a conclusion more quickly than others, so players can choose these quick-play slot games instead of lengthier poker tournaments. The slots are increasingly taking themes from modern entertainment in order to signpost to new players how they can get into iGaming.
Indeed, even gaming is introducing more titles that provide a short-form style of play, rather than long, expansive campaigns. These are often in the form of sandbox games – such as the new Animal Crossing or Pokémon games – that are easy enough to pick up and drop in short timeframes. The Pokémon franchise is expanding its base to Facebook users as a hyper-casual game on there.
The impetus behind short-form is not that our lives are that much busier than they were 20 years ago, but there is so much more to be able to engage with, and everything needs to be more immediate. While some have the patience for reading long books, watching long movies, and playing involved games, many want to get to the heart of it quicker. There has been a rise in audiobooks and podcasts so people can consume their words while doing other things, there are that have shorter levels and can be picked up and dropped easily, and there is Quibi, which facilitates watching an entire episode of a mystery thriller in 10 minutes or less.