Quibi first impressions: solid content that entertains for 10 minutes at a time

(Image credit: Quibi)

Quibi’s first day was a success, if not in terms of user signups and overall viewers - two numbers we won’t hear for another few days at the earliest - at least in terms of consistent playback and its large content catalogue which Quibi delivered in spades. 

Some of the service’s standout shows are already starting to emerge (props to Chrissy’s Court and the third Punk’d revival) and there are already dozens of shows with hours of content... which is pretty good considering the average length of an episode is only five to seven minutes. 

Sure, what’s on there right now doesn’t feel like it’s the same caliber as a Netflix original, but it could definitely give YouTube Premium a run for its money. In fact, Quibi almost feels like the true successor to the service by offering premium short form content for a fee. It’s an ambitious play into the streaming space at a time when other players are making that kind of content for free and posting it to YouTube, Vimeo, IGTV and elsewhere. 

So what’s Quibi like to use and is it worth signing up? Here’s our thoughts after spending an afternoon with the new streaming service. 

Quibi 101: What’s a Quibi? How much does it cost? 

Quibi, for those who missed the Super Bowl commercials, is a streaming service that specializes in short form content - the kind of thing that you can watch on your lunch break and still have time to eat your food. 

All the shows on the service are exclusive to the service - meaning you won’t see them on YouTube, Facebook or elsewhere - and typically involve Hollywood talent like Kevin Hart and Chrissy Teagan, or some of music’s biggest stars like Chance the Rapper and Offset from Migos. It’s a star-studded affair. 

That said, it’s not cheap to employ all these superstars and Quibi isn’t free. The way it’s setup right now, it has two pricing tiers in the US and one tier in the UK: a $5.99 per month option that has 10-15 second pre-roll ads, and a $7.99 per month version that’s ad-free (the UK only has the latter available at the moment). That’s as much as Hulu here in the US, and Britbox in the UK - and both those services offer full-length award-winning content, so the bar is set pretty high for Quibi.

To lure people into the service, Quibi is offering three months free when you sign up - which is a nice perk - but it does automatically enroll you for the service once your trial ends. So just be sure to cancel if you decide you don’t like the service.

(Image credit: Quibi)

What kind of shows are available? 

Right now, Quibi is kind of a madhouse - without a ton of user data to go off of, Quibi is throwing anything and everything at the board to see what sticks. The tentpole series are the ones we’ve already mentioned: Chrissy’s Court, a Judge Judy-like show that puts supermodel Chrissy Teagan at the judge’s bench to settle small claims between friends and couples, and Punk’d, a revamp of the old MTV show that humiliates celebrities by putting them in outlandish, staged situations. 

Both those shows have a few episodes out already and Quibi says to expect more shows to drop daily. 

After watching them they’re not exactly the kind of thing we’d want to pay $5 a month for - but the good news is that there’s more content that appeals to more niche audiences. Some of our favorite content on there is Speedrun, a video game news show put on by Polygon, and Weather Today from The Weather Channel. Admittedly, you can find shows like these all over YouTube but on Quibi they represent a start to solid, sustainable programming.

The last bit - sustainable - is something Quibi will have to give a lot of thought to in the coming weeks and months. As Netflix will tell you, high-caliber content isn’t cheap to produce and can quickly bankrupt a ship if it’s not carefully managed. It’s the thing that killed go90, Verizon’s social entertainment platform that similarly targeted millennials, and is constantly front-of-mind for any other service. 

(Image credit: Quibi)

Is Quibi worth subscribing to? 

The good news is that, for now, Quibi seems to understand the need to produce content daily to keep its users engaged and has made a lot of content available to peruse and download. It’s the kind of service that’s fun to watch during your lunch break when you can’t be bothered to find something on YouTube and has a lot of star power that should appeal to younger audiences.

By the same stroke, though, Quibi probably isn’t for everyone. Despite having some niche content that will appeal to different audiences, the pool isn’t super deep yet. It’s enough to keep you entertained for 10 minutes at a time, and not much longer. That’s especially true if you don’t find the premises of the tentpole shows that appealing. You could also make the argument that you’d find similar content on YouTube for free - and that could potentially be a huge weak spot for Quibi if YouTube revs up its own internal content creation engine.

Ultimately Quibi’s saving grace is its generous three-month free trial that should be able to hook some users. It’s the same strategy Apple and Disney are using to get people hooked on Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus, and it could be the thing that gets people in the door. How the service will fare in the long run remains to be seen, but that’s something we’ll keep our eyes on… for 10 minutes every other day.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.