Music Ally has been covering the build-up to the launch of mobile video subscription service Quibi for a while now, including the $1.75bn of pre-launch funding that it has raised, and its plans for a music-focused show. Now Quibi has launched, to reviews that are the classic mixed bag.
Engadget nailed its colours to the mast with the headline ‘Quit trying to make Quibi happen‘, and kept the gloves off for a proper pummelling. “Quibi is the worst sort of over-funded, faux-innovative startup,” it suggested. “It pretends to be changing the media industry, but it’s not actually solving any real issues for consumers, or the landscape as a whole.” Ouch.
Variety highlighted how one of Quibi’s strengths (its focus on mobile-only shows) may suddenly have become a flaw. “Why, amid the stay-at-home COVID-19 crisis, is Quibi limiting itself only to the smallest screens in the house?” Gizmodo agreed: “As an intended mobile-first product, you won’t be able to cast the app. You also won’t be able to access it from your laptop, PC, or smart TV…”
Other outlets were more encouraging (a bit). “At launch, the Quibi app is by no means bad. It just feels very much like a version 1.0,” suggested The Verge. Ars Technica, meanwhile, said that short-form programming can work – but perhaps not the shows that Quibi is focusing on. “YouTube is proof positive that the eight-minute format can work great for gadgets, games, science, and health, which Quibi sorely lacks as of press time.”
The overall gist of the launch-day reviews: Quibi may need other screens beyond the mobile after all, and its content needs to be show-stopping rather than shoulder-shrugging if people are going to actually pay for it once the 90-day free trial ends.