Sstt. Quibi is going to be loud!

While most people still try to adjust to the major uppercut that Netflix gave the audiovisual entertainment scene (from live TV, to online video) on long-form content, a new player gets very loud at SXSW: Quibi.

Film industry veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg and tech industry expert Meg Whitman talked to Dylan Byers (NBC ) about Quibi, their not-really-launched-yet streaming video service.  Quibi (short for quick bites) will offer tailored, mobile-first, short-form content somewhere in 2020.

In a world where humans dropped their respective attention-span to well under that of a goldfish (and miserably diving under 11 seconds), the concept of short snack-bites seems like a logical bet. Moreover, short-form content is easily digestible, and is de-facto built for on-the-go, mobile consumption. 


However, the duo did not really succeed in convincing me. There is a lot of competition out there that already tries to tackle short-form video. Most of these mobile first or mobile only content services are notoriously unsuccessful in piercing through the hard armor of people’s habit, and the first tombstones of mobile content are being erected on the hungry graveyard of sadly-past-away tech.

Secondly, the goal of offering content that is up to 20-minutes, seems extremely ambitious, specially taking into account that most people spend under an hour on their phones

Vice, Snapchat, Instagram and a list of other young eager dogs are trying to succeed in the short form space on and around the mobile phone. They are all looking into in-app platforms (owned or third party) that would allow content (own or influencer) from being streamed: quick and on a data plan friendly way.

The question: “What makes Quibi different?” was met with a deafening silence, even worse, with the friendly assurance that the service will be successful. “Five years from now, we want to come back on this stage and if we were successful, there will have been the era of movies, the era of television and the era of Quibi. What Google is to search, Quibi will be to short-form video,” said Katzenberg

Will Quibi’s announced quick and easy streaming, a first promising line-up of influencers (including Jenifer Lopez), and its deep pockets (over a billion) be enough to succeed? Hard to tell: for a platform that promises to kick some serious ass, I felt the storytelling here at SXSW tame, borderline soulless and not very creative.


The investors though tell another story:  Sony Pictures Entertainment, Entertainment One, The Walt Disney Company, Madrone Capital Partners, Greg Penner, Warner Bros, Liberty Global, 21st Century Fox, MGM Studios, Alibaba Group…a most impressive lineup.  Katzenberg built his street-creds at DreamWorks Animation.


The future of Quibi will be loud. Or it all comes together, and Quibi will have disrupted the short video content world. Or it will fail, and with a funding of well over a billion, it will not fizzle out: it will go with a big bang.

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