April 11, 2020 ☼ 📺
It’s probably too early to dive into too much of what Quibi has done thus far. After all, it’s only been a couple days, and given the Quarantine Times we currently live in, the Daily Essentials are not what they were supposed to be since a lot are being produced from people’s homes rather than in fancy studios with high production costs. At this point, I’ve watched one episode of basically everything they have to offer with a few exceptions of shows that I just am not the target audience for. While I think a lot of the negative reviews I’ve read so far about Quibi’s launch have been pretty accurate, I think they are missing the potential that is here (with the caveat being the price.) Still though, a few things pop-out as important to talk about. The rankings section below are all based on just one episode of each show watched.
The first thing I noticed, after watching a whole lot of Quibi shows, is there isn’t a singular launch show to really get people in the door. There are a lot of interesting, diverse ideas that will resonate with different people, but nothing that will garner a large collective following. They need their Game of Thrones. Obviously, they aren’t going to see GoT success, but what I mean is, they need something that people will talk about, that will become appointment viewing. It’s clear even before watching anything, that they just don’t have it yet. Listening to the second half of this episode of Recode Media really resonated with me, full dramas just feel like leftover material from broadcast networks.
While the overall quality of their dramas seems better at launch, this format of quick bites doesn’t suit itself to the arcs you go through watching a drama. What I think they have done right, is go after Reno 911. It’s not a show I ever watched or am really interested in, but it’s an example of a show that can easily fit the quick bite format and has the name recognition, reaching out to be a door buster. And while using Reno 911 in this way is a step in the right direction, I think their killer show needs to be something completely original and new, written by someone with chops and built with the format in mind from the start.
Even better than comedies for this format, are animated shows. Cartoon Network and Adult Swim both have shows with shorter episodes already on their networks. Completely leaving out kids as a target audience seems short sighted and then add on the fact Netflix and Hulu have upcoming shows from the Adventure Time and Rick & Morty creators. This feels like a huge miss to me.
Overall, I’ve really liked the Daily Essentials, which is unsurprising since it was something I was really looking forward to. I’ve long tried to find a YouTube channel that releases one video a day a la The Daily with relevant news in different sectors. That’s essentially what we have hear for world news, movies, video games, etc. The Nod has also been pretty good even though I feel the show is better suited to the longer form podcast. It has been cool to see it translated to a daily video show. I mentioned it previously, but The Daily Chill was a pleasant surprise for me. It’s basically a short mediative show shot in a different scenic location everyday. This made me wonder why they did try a seven minute daily workout show to go along with it. While I’ve been pleased with the Daily Essentials, they are value adds rather than something you will actually fork over money for, but to have your daily world news, meditation show, and quick workout all in one place would be pretty cool.
The quick episodes feel like they could lend themselves to book adaptations pretty well. Even going so far as trying to adapt something more faithfully, chapter by chapter, would be an interesting experiment. I just finished Kafka on the Shore, which made me think of this, where chapters alternate between two characters. You’d have to be in it for the long haul, but 50 eight minute episodes faithfully adapting a book like that would be cool.
I am still flabbergasted there is no way to watch this on an actual TV. Especially once a full shows run of episodes are out and someone might want to binge, and especially, especially during quarantine times, when people aren’t on the go or commuting nearly as much any more.
Most importantly, the price is just too high. Given these are short bites (with no Apple TV support), no one is going to devour the catalog the way one might with Netflix. Yes, they launched with tons of shows, but, there is still a limit to what one is actually going to watch. And watching on your phone for over five minutes can feel exhausting at times. If anything, I think they might’ve launched with too many shows. Do less shows for less money, focus on two or three you think might be your killer show, add in the Daily Essentials and a few quirky shows like Punk’d or Chrissy’s Court to give a little diversity to the lineup and then go. You don’t need so many shows all at once. And given that, releasing new episodes for every single show, even the scripted shows, every single week day is just too much. It feels as if they are trying to drown you, and I have a feeling people who drown on their first day swimming don’t come back to the pool for more later on.
The app is actually really nice. Navigating and finding shows is a breeze. A neat feature I had to discover on my own: if you press and hold on the screen, you will see a little slider button that you can slide to mute and turn captions off, and then back again. Good little bit of UX there. The turnstyle shin-dig isn’t really necessary. I find myself watching scripted and docs in landscape and then news stuff in portrait just because that makes sense for me. I tried playing around with some stuff going back and forth to see what the differences/changes would be and found they really did a good job making sure you don’t miss anything in either view, but it’s still more gimmick than anything else.