Quibi Launches Today: Did Streaming Just Change Forever?

Between Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, and HBO GO, we’ve almost reached the point where all our streaming services add up to the cost of cable. Enter Quibi, which launches today. While it adds a few bucks to the bundle, it aims to beat its competitors by playing the game a little differently.

The new streaming service is out with 50 different programs that include unscripted reality shows, short-form documentaries, films and news. But if the content sounds familiar, what sets Quibi apart is format. Each episode is less than 10 minutes long, and is designed to be watched on a phone. Quibi, it turns out, is short for “quick bite,” and promo materials lean heavily into the idea of “snackable content.”

Founded by business and entertainment heavy-hitters Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Quibi has lined up an impressive slate of celebrities to anchor their programming. Feature-length movies, which are broken down into 10-minute or less chapters, star the likes of Sophie Turner, Liam Hemsworth and Anna Kendrick, while Quibi’s unscripted content features everyone from Jennifer Lopez spreading good vibes (and $100,000 cash) in Thanks a Million to Chance the Rapper hosting a reboot of MTV’s Punk’d.

Beyond content that’s short enough to view in the time it takes to scroll through Netflix, the platform leverages technology to take the term “mobile-friendly” to a whole new level. Using something Quibi calls “TurnStyle”, every show can be viewed horizontally or vertically on a phone without disrupting its flow. That requires content to be shot and edited in two angles. What sounds like a pain was a fun challenge for Rebecca Thomas, the 35-year-old director of When the Streetlights Come On, a coming-of-age murder mystery set in 1995 (complete with Marilyn Manson references and Ace of Base on the soundtrack). Thomas grew up Mormon in Las Vegas and went on a mission to Japan where she learned Japanese and how to read manga and anime vertically. “From manga and becoming a complete nerd, I fell in love with vertical paneling. So I thought this was rad.”

She says they storyboarded the show so it could work both ways. “It was sort of a mind melt at first but then you start to re-block the actors and focus on making beautiful and bold aspect ratios, and I nerded out. And to show different perspectives when you turn the phone is something that’s really cool that I want to try.” Thomas is referring to select Quibi content which shows a different character’s perspective when you turn the phone, and she hopes her next Quibi project will be among them.

But the TurnStyle challenge isn’t exactly what drew Thomas to Quibi. When the Streetlights Come On started as a feature script that was on Black List many years ago and then was created as a Hulu pilot that didn’t get picked up. “It sat on a shelf forever and Quibi has been redeeming these great, lost projects or projects that have been trapped in development.”

Quibi isn’t only breathing new life into established projects. It also hopes to make new stars. Thomas’ show features fresh faces like It’s Chosen Jacobs and Sophie Thatcher, whose IMDB credits are mostly four episodes of Chicago Med. They share a screen with Hollywood veterans like Queen Latifah and Mark Duplass.

Spoken like a true 18-year-old, Jacobs says he was attracted to the project because “it’s a really innovative way to put out content.” Beyond the format being cool, he says it brought the best out of him as an actor: “I approached it as both [a movie and a TV show]. I looked at it as a series with a character that evolves with every episode, but the intensity of the shoot and how focused I was made it feel like a feature.”

Related | No One Is Safe on Chance the Rapper’s ‘Punk’d’

But will hip directors and actors be enough to make Quibi take off? The platform launches at a strange time in human history. Nearly all of America is under order to remain at home through at least April 30. While that’s led to a surge in streaming services like Netflix, more bite-sized entertainment products like podcasts have taken a big hit. The thinking is that without commutes in LA traffic or on NYC subways, people are turning to Tiger King. That could be a major challenge for Quibi. In January, CEO Meg Whitman told Vanity Fair, “Quibi is not a substitute or a competitor for television. Our [service] is exclusively about what you do from 7 AM to 7 PM on your phone.”

Talking to PAPER, Whitman doesn’t sound too worried. “People still have in-between moments. They’re just different in-between moments,” she says. Part of Whitman’s calm could be explained by the enormous slate of content they’re set to launch throughout the year: more than 175 original shows and 8,500 “quick bites” of content. Or it could be that they’ve already raised $1.75 billion in funding.

The money comes with a lot of connections, and that’s crucial for young creators who are getting their big break on Quibi. Harrison Macks, 28, and J.P. Stiles, 27, are the directors of &Music, a docuseries that highlights the essential behind-the-scenes partners of some of music’s biggest acts. They created a sizzle reel using footage they shot with DJ Martin Garrix and his lighting designer Gabe Fraboni in Amsterdam that was originally intended to be a standalone documentary. They showed the footage to a production company called OBB Pictures, which is connected to music manager Scooter Braun. He loved it. As the story was relayed to them, Scooter happened to be having breakfast with Jeffrey Katzenberg the next day, and he wanted to buy &Music on the spot. From there, the project came together quickly. Quibi not only transformed their original concept into a series of 10-minute episodes, but also granted them access to subjects like Ariana Grande and her choreographers Scott and Brian Nicholson.

It’s a story Hollywood dreams are built on. “This was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” Macks said.

Quibi’s lineup is full of young, unknown creatives, but they’re matched with Hollywood A-listers. One such star is Sophie Turner, who helms Survive, a thriller co-starring Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton and the forthcoming In the Heights) about a suicidal young woman (played by Turner) who survives a plane crash with Hawkins’s character. Survive is among Turner’s first projects since her run on Game of Thrones and the X-Men films.

Turner says the “movie in chapters” form was both a treat and a challenge. “There had to be so much condensing and expanding of storylines per episode to ensure we fit enough into ten minutes to tell a story and become a vehicle for the characters to start off in one place and end up in another by the end of each episode,” she says. “Both literally and figuratively.”

Turner’s husband, Joe Jonas, is also involved with Quibi, launching the literal opposite of a show about a plane crash later in the month: an unscripted travel series called Cup of Joe. It’s a testament to Quibi’s range (and deep pockets).

Related | Tyra Banks Is Launching a Body Positive Docu-Series

“We don’t produce anything,” Whitman explains of their content strategy. “We commission the content. The very first thing [Jeffrey Katzenberg and I] did was establish a top-notch team of young creatives in Hollywood.” She says before the coronavirus shut down the country, they were receiving upwards of 100 pitches a week.

So for almost every Reese Witherspoon-produced show like Fierce Queens (a nature series, believe it or not) there’s something by up-and-comers, like Gayme Show which pairs two straight contestants with a celebrity “life partner” in a series of challenges co-hosted by gay comedians Matt Rogers and Dave Mizzoni. Quibi is also appointing Chrissy Teigen a judge in Chrissy’s Court, which settles petty disputes with help from breakout star Vilailuck “Pepper Thai” Teigen (her mom); it’s giving Lena Waithe a series about sneaker culture; and it’s highlighting Lebron James’s efforts to help struggling students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio succeed through the I Promise school, a public school funded by his family foundation.

If Quibi has something for everyone, how will everyone react to content meant to be viewed alone on your phone? It’s the opposite of the communal viewing that’s fueling the popularity of Netflix Party right now.

Thomas says one of her favorite experiences is going to the theater alone. She loves to be scared alone, too. She says she relished filming When the Streetlights Come On’s spookier moments knowing people might be watching on their phone in bed.

Whitman talks about scenarios where a family is all in the same room doing different things on their phones as one where Quibi works. And if it doesn’t, she’s already thinking about how the platform will continue to evolve. “Eventually I hope to have a feature on the app where you can synchronize watching together,” she says, while acknowledging that’d take a fair amount of engineering. “But we probably wish we had that right now,” she adds with a laugh.

So will Quibi break through? While it may take longer than ten minutes to tell, a deep bench of stars, filmmakers and investors have already placed big bets that the answer is yes.

Photos courtesy of Quibi

Rick Ross – Kyrie (Geechi Liberachi Album)

[Interlude]
DP on the beat
Man: Listen Rozay I want some dope, I heard y’all sell dope
Ross: So what type of dope you want bitch?
Maybach Music

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving

[Verse 1: Rick Ross]
Steven Curry, Under Armour on my gang
They hit me close range, bitch ain’t hit a thing
Cut the dog food up with the (?)
The junkies they hit ’em like a canon ball
Don’t nobody do it like Miami does
Bought 20 kilos, coulda bought Miami subs
Let her snort a line so she can get a buzz
She says she want a dime, I told her get a dub
My city one big hospice, I could pull the plug
Them bitches know it’s us before we pulling up
Keep it gangster, 20 bottles of Bel-Air
And got all of the dope boy’s hands in the air

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 2: Rick Ross]
I wanna build a mansion in Port-Au-Prince
Speaking creole with all of my Haitian friends
Kilos for the low and Bahamas the (?)
Everything is diamond, can’t cop in a drought
I’m breezing through the beats, shout my nigga Pauchillo
Dave Grutman in the building, toast like the Goodfellas
20 million, baby that’s my water bill
Got Puffy on the phone talking a quarter bill
Piece of honey now I’m talking Taco Bell
Youngest nigga in the US with 100 mil
Ain’t too many hoes I haven’t done for real
Money in my pocket, boy I’m number one for real
Benz running and I’m sitting on the trunk
Rolling up a blunt, getting my dick sucked

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 3: Rick Ross]
I see you fucking up like you a Donald Trump
I cast a vote and get a pussy nigga slumped
I gave my dog a stack, that shit was barely lunch
He got it done and called me back like batter’s up
He hit a bystander which didn’t matter much
And then I ate that pussy like it’s Captain Crunch
We cruising La Brea like we was Mexican
When it come to your hustle, exhibit excellence
Step to my clique and you’ll meet the exorcist
If you’re ever in debt then you’ll be the deficit
In the oval office and I’m iced out
Ankle monitor beeping in the white house

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

Big Sean – Light (feat. Jeremih)

[Intro: Big Sean]
Uh-huh, is it time?

[Verse 1: Big Sean]
Look, I spent my whole life tryna improvise
I’m not saying that shit for you to sympathize
Spent my whole life tryna find the light that’s at the end of the tunnel
I should have realized it was inside
So lately I been trying to get what’s inside outside
So many people wanna see my insides outside
I’m from that city four hours east of Southside
Where everyone outside, but don’t fuck with no outsiders
Going up, with the ones I hold it down with
Whole city got my back on some photobomb shit
Whole city blowing up on some old Saddam shit
Before this I was the one hoes tried to go to prom with

[Refrain: Big Sean]
You know, take the fame, take the crib, take our cars
Now we gotta take the train, hood niggas takin’ chains
Slave master take our names, 5-0 take the shot
And young souls take the blame, man but they can’t take away
The light

[Hook: Jeremih & Big Sean]
No matter how much they gon’ shade you
No, man they can’t fuck with the light
They can’t stop the shine
They can’t fuck with the light
Hell nah the boy’s that bright
Even if you take away my life, you can’t take the light
No matter how much they gon’ shade you

[Verse 2: Big Sean]
Got the whole city on fire
Boy, this the flow that got Steph Curry inspired
This the flow that got Lebron James finna rewire
This the flow that got my whole family finna retire
Flows on flows, I might drown in this bitch
Ye found a pro, I guess I’m profound in this bitch
My dad from Louisiana, man the smallest town
Where if they know you’re brown, they might hold you down and even hose you down, man
Since I’m his son, I feel like I gotta stunt hard
I took the hand that they gave me and played the Donald Trump card
And realized counting money never feel as good as counting blessings
And a loaded mind is more dangerous than a loaded weapon

[Refrain: Big Sean]
So when they take the fame, take the crib, take our cars
Now we gotta take the train, and hood niggas takin’ chains
Slave master take our names, 5-0 take the shot
And young souls take the blame, man but they can’t take away
The light

[Hook: Jeremih & Big Sean]
No matter how much they gon’ shade you
No, man they can’t fuck with the light
They can’t stop the shine
No, man they can’t fuck with the light
Hell nah the boy’s that bright
Even if you take away my life, you can’t take the light
No matter how much they gon’ shade you

[Outro: Jeremih]
Don’t let them take away your soul
No, no (No, no)
Don’t let them take away what makes you whole

T-Wayne – Same One (Forever Rickey Album)

[Intro]
That’s the same thing
Look, Cool!
Straight up

[Hook]
Got Giuseppe and Margiela, that’s the same thing
One foreign, one yellow, that’s the same thing
With the beat or acapella, that’s the same thing
In the house or with the teller, that’s the same thing
That’s the same thing, yeah that’s the same thing
That’s the same thing, yeah that’s the same thing
Got Giuseppe and Margiela, that’s the same thing
I’m with a foreign and a yellow, that’s the same thing

[Verse 1]
Lebron James, Michael Jordan, that’s the same thing
Making movies and recording, that’s the same thing
White girl and a foreign, that’s the same thing
I’m in my city or I’m touring, that’s the same thing
All black Lamborghini like I’m Bruce Wayne
I said the Lamborghini but I want that Mulsanne
Bitch I’m blowing up, they think I’m Hussain
I’m riding ‘round and getting it like I’m 2 Chainz
Lennox Mall or Galleria, that’s the same thing
The Ferrari or the Kia, that’s the same thing
One bullshit, one rachet, that’s the same thing
Got two bad bitches with the same name

[Hook]
Got Giuseppe and Margiela, that’s the same thing
One foreign, one yellow, that’s the same thing
With the beat or acapella, that’s the same thing
In the house or with the teller, that’s the same thing
That’s the same thing, yeah that’s the same thing
That’s the same thing, yeah that’s the same thing
Got Giuseppe and Margiela, that’s the same thing
I’m with a foreign and a yellow, that’s the same thing

[Verse 2]
Free all of my niggas in the chain gang
Went gold and went platinum on the same day
Want a verse, I want a Rolex, that’s the same pay
I walked through in two shows on the same day
Margiela fellow, bitch look just like Cinderella
I could kill the beat or I could do it acapella
She could be a foreign, she could even be a yellow
Had a champagne shower, need an umbrella
V Live, King of Diamonds, that’s the same thing
VVS, black and yellow, that’s the same chain
Blue strips, big faces, that’s the same thing
Man my car is too big for the same lane

[Hook]
Got Giuseppe and Margiela, that’s the same thing
One foreign, one yellow, that’s the same thing
With the beat or acapella, that’s the same thing
In the house or with the teller, that’s the same thing
That’s the same thing, yeah that’s the same thing
That’s the same thing, yeah that’s the same thing
Got Giuseppe and Margiela, that’s the same thing
I’m with a foreign and a yellow, that’s the same thing

[Outro]
That’s the same thing
That’s the same thing
That’s the same thing

Rick Ross – Kyrie (Black Jack Album)

[Interlude]
DP on the beat
Man: Listen Rozay I want some dope, I heard y’all sell dope
Ross: So what type of dope you want bitch?
Maybach Music

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving

[Verse 1: Rick Ross]
Steven Curry, Under Armour on my gang
They hit me close range, bitch ain’t hit a thing
Cut the dog food up with the (?)
The junkies they hit ’em like a canon ball
Don’t nobody do it like Miami does
Bought 20 kilos, coulda bought Miami subs
Let her snort a line so she can get a buzz
She says she want a dime, I told her get a dub
My city one big hospice, I could pull the plug
Them bitches know it’s us before we pulling up
Keep it gangster, 20 bottles of Bel-Air
And got all of the dope boy’s hands in the air

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 2: Rick Ross]
I wanna build a mansion in Port-Au-Prince
Speaking creole with all of my Haitian friends
Kilos for the low and Bahamas the (?)
Everything is diamond, can’t cop in a drought
I’m breezing through the beats, shout my nigga Pauchillo
Dave Grutman in the building, toast like the Goodfellas
20 million, baby that’s my water bill
Got Puffy on the phone talking a quarter bill
Piece of honey now I’m talking Taco Bell
Youngest nigga in the US with 100 mil
Ain’t too many hoes I haven’t done for real
Money in my pocket, boy I’m number one for real
Benz running and I’m sitting on the trunk
Rolling up a blunt, getting my dick sucked

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 3: Rick Ross]
I see you fucking up like you a Donald Trump
I cast a vote and get a pussy nigga slumped
I gave my dog a stack, that shit was barely lunch
He got it done and called me back like batter’s up
He hit a bystander which didn’t matter much
And then I ate that pussy like it’s Captain Crunch
We cruising La Brea like we was Mexican
When it come to your hustle, exhibit excellence
Step to my clique and you’ll meet the exorcist
If you’re ever in debt then you’ll be the deficit
In the oval office and I’m iced out
Ankle monitor beeping in the white house

[Hook: Rick Ross]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

Rick Ross – Kyrie Lyrics

[Intro]
(DP on the beat)
Man: Listen Rozay I want some dope, I heard y’all sell dope
Ross: So what type of dope you want bitch?
Maybach Music

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving

[Verse 1]
Stephen Curry, Under Armour on my gang
They hit me close range, bitch ain’t hit a thing
Cut the dog food up with the (?)
The junkies they hit ’em like a canon ball
Don’t nobody do it like Miami does
Bought 20 kilos, coulda bought Miami subs
Let her snort a line so she can get a buzz
She says she want a dime, I told her get a dub
My city one big hospice, I could pull the plug
Them bitches it’s us before we pulling up
Keep it gangster, 20 bottles of Bel-Air
And got all of the dope boy’s hands in the air

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 2]
I wanna build a mansion in Port-Au-Prince
Speaking creole with all of my Haitian friends
Kilos for the low and Bahamas the (?)
Everything is diamond, can’t cop in a drought
I’m breezing through the beats, shout my nigga Pauchillo
Dave Grutman in the building, toast like the Goodfellas
20 million, baby that’s my water bill
Got Puffy on the phone talking a quarter bill
Piece of honey now I’m talking Taco Bell
Youngest nigga in the US with 100 mil
Ain’t too many hoes I haven’t done for real
Money in my pocket, boy I’m number one for real
Benz running and I’m sitting on the trunk
Rolling up a blunt, getting my dick sucked

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 3]
I see you fucking up like you a Donald Trump
I cast a vote and get a pussy nigga slumped
I gave my dog a stack, that shit was barely lunch
He got it done and called me back like batter’s up
He hit a bystander which didn’t matter much
And then I ate that pussy like Captain Crunch
We cruising (?) like we was Mexican
When it come to your hustle, exhibit excellence
Step to my clique and you’ll meet the exorcist
If you’re ever in debt then you’ll be the deficit
In the oval office and I’m iced out
Ankle monitor beeping in the white house

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

Rick Ross – Kyrie

[Intro]
(DP on the beat)
Man: Listen Rozay I want some dope, I heard y’all sell dope
Ross: So what type of dope you want bitch?
Maybach Music

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving

[Verse 1]
Stephen Curry, Under Armour on my gang
They hit me close range, bitch ain’t hit a thing
Cut the dog food up with the (?)
The junkies they hit ’em like a canon ball
Don’t nobody do it like Miami does
Bought 20 kilos, coulda bought Miami subs
Let her snort a line so she can get a buzz
She says she want a dime, I told her get a dub
My city one big hospice, I could pull the plug
Them bitches it’s us before we pulling up
Keep it gangster, 20 bottles of Bel-Air
And got all of the dope boy’s hands in the air

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 2]
I wanna build a mansion in Port-Au-Prince
Speaking creole with all of my Haitian friends
Kilos for the low and Bahamas the (?)
Everything is diamond, can’t cop in a drought
I’m breezing through the beats, shout my nigga Pauchillo
Dave Grubman in the building, toast like the Goodfellas
20 million, baby that’s my water bill
Got Puffy on the phone talking a quarter bill
Piece of honey now I’m talking Taco Bell
Youngest nigga in the US with 100 mil
Ain’t too many hoes I haven’t done for real
Money in my pocket, boy I’m number one for real
Benz running and I’m sitting on the trunk
Rolling up a blunt, getting my dick sucked

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work

[Verse 3]
I see you fucking up like you a Donald Trump
I cast a vote and get a pussy nigga slumped
I gave my dog a stack, that shit was barely lunch
He got it done and called me back like batter’s up
He hit a bystander which didn’t matter much
And then I ate that pussy like Captain Crunch
We cruising (?) like we was Mexican
When it come to your hustle, exhibit excellence
Step to my clique and you’ll meet the exorcist
If you’re ever in debt then you’ll be the deficit
In the oval office and I’m iced out
Ankle monitor beeping in the white house

[Hook]
Bitches screaming for me like Beyonce
Work, jumping out the gym like it’s Lebron James
This other type of money even make me nervous
I’m standing out the roof, jersey Kyrie Irving
Work, work, work, work, work