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What Makes Quibi, Quibi?

Rachel Krauss (VP Insights & Strategy) on June 09th, 2020


This blog is based on a special study that Vault prepared for its clients and VIPs on what makes Quibi, Quibi. To download the complete study, click here.


Quibi, the new mobile-first streaming platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, has been prominently featured in the news and trades over the past few weeks. Short for "quick bites," Quibi serves bite-sized 10-minute chunks of content to commuters or people during the ebb and flow of their 7 AM to 7 PM workday-when they have a few minutes to spare and lack the time for binging or watching more substantial content.

While much of the media focus has been centered on Quibi's launch performance during the COVID-19 lockdown, what's really important for executives and creators is to understand what Quibi's programming is all about. We believe by looking solely at the story elements and attributes of Quibi's shows, we can uniquely define what makes Quibi, Quibi.

Story is King... Always

Since the dawn of humankind, it's always been the story that's carried the day. From Greek tragedies to medieval bards to radio-and, of course, movies and television-the delivery mechanism may change, but it's the emotional connection of a story that engages and impacts audiences.

With a $1.75 billion war chest, Quibi is currently expected to release 100+ original shows and thousands more "quick bites" of content in the upcoming year. While Quibi offers a new twist on the relatively new medium of streaming content, the big story is the types of stories that Quibi will share with its audiences. These stories are the core of Quibi's product - if the initial novelty of 4-10 minute videos wears off, and when free trials run out, it will be the stories (the content itself) that are responsible for retaining and attracting subscribers.

Vault: AI-Based Story Analysis

Vault's unique AI-based approach to story analysis uses any form of pre- or post-production content-such as a script, outline, finished cut, or trailer-to analyze millions of story points, including genre, plot, character arcs, key concepts and scene types that motivate and engage audiences.

Using Vault's proprietary AI platform, Vault can detect up to 100,000+ story attributes that define a show's DNA-its story, structure, and characters. These attributes can then be mapped against Vault's story content database comprising the last 30 years of shows, movies and short-form content.

By distilling the programming content into its basic story DNA, Vault can identify connections between the elements that make up any show or programming and potential audiences, helping platforms to deliver content that better caters to their core audience demographics.

What is Quibi's Story?

To understand Quibi's story and the hallmarks of the new platform, Vault AI decided to use its RealAudienceā„¢ platform to analyze Quibi's first 30 shows. By ingesting the actual episodes released of these first 30 shows into the Vault platform (which also works when only a script or other text materials are available), the platform's AI identified and analyzed tens of thousands of data points, including story elements, key concepts, genres, scene types and more. This is in contrast to many studies and articles focusing solely on downloads and install numbers.

Vault AI's analysis answers the following questions:

  • What kinds of stories are being told?
  • What are the common themes, and who are the protagonists?
  • What is the platform's range of emotional tone?
  • What makes the characters tick?
  • Who are the behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera talent?
  • What are the key demographics for each show?
  • Was Quibi's programming unique to the platform, or could it thrive on other platforms?

The Core Programming Genres

While Quibi's wide range of programming gives it the potential to appeal to a multitude of audiences, the fact that 54% of the platform's programming is unscripted suggests it views Reality, Lifestyle, and Documentary genres as particularly well suited to its short form model. Within Quibi's scripted content, Comedies (14%) are twice as prevalent as Dramas or Thrillers, suggesting part of the platform's thesis is that viewers are looking to fill the "in between" moments with a good laugh.

Quibi's strategy involved launching with content led by popular TV Personalities, including Sophie Turner in SURVIVE, a plane crash drama, to Chrissy Teigen starring in CHRISSY'S COURT, a small claims court reality show.

Something for Everyone

Vault AI's analysis of Quibi's first 30 titles suggests the platform's content will appeal fairly equally across genders while predominantly attracting viewers in the 30+ age bracket, though future episodes and shows could shift the balance one way or the other. When looking at individual shows, Quibi seems to offer something for everyone between the ages of 20 and 40-precisely the people who were most likely to be commuting to work in a non-COVID-19 world. What is even more interesting, some shows could have been hits across all networks and streaming platforms, especially CHRISSY'S COURT.

While digging into the core of Quibi's programming, Vault's AI platform identified eight significant story concepts that can attract audiences for a full season or more:

Competition, Reality, Expert Advice, and Key Talent are the top concept drivers for Quibi's programming. These are followed by programming focused on Relationships, Inspiration, Knowledge, and Comedy.

Quibi's shows feature more male protagonists than female protagonists. Shows featuring male protagonists tend to be more Comedic, while shows featuring female protagonists tend to be more Family-oriented, Uplifting, and Emotional.

Fulfilling Human Desires

Vault's AI platform can detect which of Reiss' 16 Basic Human Desires are satisfied by creative content. The top three human desires fulfilled by Quibi's content are:

  • Romance (Beauty, Sex, Love)
    The shows that appeal to the human desire for Romance all contain peers seeking out romantic contact. In SEXOLOGY, real people ask certified Sexologist Shan Boodram, the Internet's most sought-after sex educator, about sex and relationships. In the dating show SINGLED OUT, 30 contestants are drawn from a bachelor's or bachelorette's social media account to compete to find a romantic connection sight unseen.
  • Eating (Food, Drinking, Hunting)
    Shows that appeal to the desire to eat all contain an appreciation for food. In THE SHAPE OF PASTA, Chef Evan Funke scours Italy for the pasta makers who prepare unusual and unique pasta shapes using special techniques and traditions. In DISHMANTLED, which is hosted by actor Tituss Burgess, a full meal is blasted into the faces of two blindfolded chef contestants-wearing hazmat suits-who must recreate the meal for celebrity judges to win a cash prize.
  • Vengeance (Winning, Aggression, Revenge)
    Audiences will identify with characters driven by revenge, especially when it is against the odds. In the PRODIGY docu-series, young athletes are profiled as they seek to become the next big thing in their competitive sport. Another docu-series, RUN THIS CITY, follows the youngest mayor in Massachusetts history as he faces wire fraud and extortion charges while preparing for re-election.

Detecting Emotions

Vault can also predict which emotions the content will elicit from the audience. The top three emotions evoked by Quibi content are:

  • Pensiveness (Broody, Grave, Analytical)
    Thoughtfulness and good deeds carry a lot of weight within Quibi's programming. In the docu-series I PROMISE, viewers are inspired as they follow at-risk students at LeBron James' I PROMISE School as they seek to improve their lives through education. In THANKS A MILLION, celebrities give away $100,000 to deserving people who must then give away $50,000 to someone else.
  • Awe (Wonder, Disbelief, Enchantment)
    Wonder and shock keep audiences' attention, especially with a reboot of the popular reality show PUNK'D, now with Chance the Rapper as the host and mastermind behind the celebrity pranks-and their unscripted reactions. GONE MENTAL features Mentalist Lior Suchard who surprises celebrities, passersby and viewers with his mind-reading prowess and pranks.
  • Serenity (Calmness, Quiet, Harmony)
    Quibi takes viewers on meditative journeys with THE DAILY CHILL, which combines beautiful scenery from around the world, calming ASMR sounds, and relaxing visuals while &MUSIC docu-series takes a look at the artistry of the music industry from the view of "unsung artists" such as lighting directors, choreographers, audio engineers and songwriters who help make stars successful.

Each type of Quibi content seems to elicit different emotions. Scripted content on Quibi evokes more dark and intense emotions such as Rage, Fear, Remorse, and Vigilance. In contrast, unscripted content tends to be more lighthearted and evokes Ecstasy, Awe, Serenity, and Interest.

Broad, Easily Digestible Content

Quibi's unique selling point is that it has broad appeal as opposed to streaming channels which tend to appeal to specific niches or demographics. Overall, Quibi's content is more casual than intense, allowing its audiences to lean back rather than lean forward. But, with this "lean back" mentality, and without requiring viewers to commit a significant amount of time (unlike watching an hour-long episode of content), the question remains: will Quibi be able to create a viral moment or must-see content that connects and captivates viewers?


Download the complete Quibi study on which this blog is based, click here