- Quibi, a new mobile-only streaming platform, launched Monday featuring vertical, short-form shows and and movies.
- Users were quick to discover that they’re unable to take screenshots of shows they’re watching – if you try to, you instead get a photo of a black screen.
- Netflix and Hulu allow users to capture stills that can be posted on social media, but a newcomer to the streaming landscape could be at a disadvantage without the potential for clips or screenshots to be shared and turned into memes or go viral.
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After more then a year of anticipation and nearly $US2 billion raised, Quibi, the newly launched, mobile-only streaming platform, hopes to take aim at the industry’s biggest names, including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, but it could face an uphill battle thanks to one feature: If users try to take a screenshot of a show they’re watching in Quibi, the resulting photo will only show a black screen.
Quibi’s massive investment – executives say they’re expecting to spend $US1.1 billion on its 10-minute, vertical video content in the first year alone – and yearlong build-up could be all for nothing if the service doesn’t attract users, especially the millenials that the company says it’s been heavily targeting with advertising through social media and digital marketing.
Competitors like Netflix have leaned into user-generated content that boosts its shows’ popularity, even using the memes to promote its original programming on the brand’s social media. It’s no coincidence that the viral popularity the hit docuseries, “Tiger King,” has coincided with a flurry of memes and discussion on social media platforms about Joe Exotic’s music career and Carole Baskin’s possible involvement in her ex-husband’s death. Social platforms – whether Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok – are where people go to discover what their friends, family, and people with similar interests are enjoying.
Like Quibi, Netflix and Hulu prevent screengrabs only on their mobile apps, allowing users to capture content on web browsers and desktops. Mobile-only Quibi is not compatible on browsers, and it’s unclear why the platform has decided to block screenshots of its content. The company did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
One reason could be to protect the company from copyright infringement, or to ensure users download the Quibi app to get a glimpse at any of its 50 titles, which features both scripted and unscripted series. Quibi enlisted a range of high-profile names: sports stars like Lebron James and Megan Rapinoe; musical artists including Offset and Chance the Rapper; and actors Will Forte, Queen Latifah, and Liam Hemsworth.
As The Verge’s Julia Alexander pointed out on Twitter, some of Quibi’s reality shows are “bats–t insane,” including a six-episode show about the alter-ego of Nicole Richie, who has been a reality TV staple ever since “The Simple Life.” In another title, Chrissy Teigen is essentially Judge Judy – if Judge Judy had 12.5 million Twitter followers and was married to songwriter John Legend.
Without screenshots or gifs of these shows being shared, Quibi is betting on viewers’ initial interest in the platform to be enough to get them to download the app, instead of through the digital grapevine of memes and viral humour. By preventing screenshots, Quibi could be undercutting its presence on the very social platforms it sees as so crucial to its strategy.
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