Quibi launched as a mobile-only streaming platform aimed at the younger millennial generation and people who are on the move. The videos were just 10 minutes long, hence the name Quibi, short for QUIck BItes. And they competed directly against Netflix and Disney+ and other streaming platforms.

And they started out well too. They have 2 highly successful people at the helm. Meg Whitman, their CEO has been behind the success of eBay and also was CEO of HP in the past. Their founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg, was behind the DreamWorks Animation Studios, one of the most successful animated studios of all time with titles such as Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and Madagascar.

They raised a massive $1.8B investment in a very short span, and many big entertainment companies like Disney, Viacom, Sony, Warner, and big investors like Alibaba, Goldmann Sachs, JP Morgan, and so on. They made those shows with popular high-list actors from Hollywood. And have spent a massive 73 Million dollars on ads even before it was launched.

But it only lasted for just 7 months, having launched in April 2020 and shut down in Dec 2020.

So why did it fail?

A bit pricey

Quibi was priced at $5 and $7 per month for ad and ad-free respectively. Even though this isn’t pricey, there are free alternatives like YouTube, Vimeo, and free mobile apps and games.

They gave an initial free trial of 90 days, so the initial traction was good, but people jumped ship as soon as it ended, with less than 10% of people becoming paid subscribers.

Bad Timing

Quibi launched at the start of the pandemic in 2020 when everything was shutting down and people stayed at home. But Quibi was designed around the idea of watching the content when you have very little bursts of time in between, like on the commute or waiting for something. So this worked against them when people had loads of free time at home. 

Quibi mentioned this as one of the reasons for failure when shutting down, but other streaming platforms thrived during the pandemic posting record subscriptions and watch times.

Mobile-only

This was another unique USP they put forward, targeting the younger demographic on phone. But during the pandemic lockdowns, people often watched content on larger screens and TVs. So people defaulted to bigger streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime etc.

Limited catalog of content

They had a limit of 10mins per video, which meant they didn’t have any content available already. They had to make videos exclusively for the platform, whereas other giants like Netflix and Disney+ had films and TV shows for decades and are also producing original content. So this was always going to be a challenge from the beginning. 

And the content was mediocre too. Since the time was limited to 10mins, the stories couldn’t expand and everything was rushed. If the story was actually good, they would have made it into a longer video, instead of Quibi.

Also, these studios pumped a lot of money into new content making, and the 2 billion dollars that Quibi had was very little comparatively.

Non-shareable

Users couldn’t take screenshots or share clips or videos from the app. While most other platforms allowed some form of sharing, especially other platforms like Tiktok and YouTube which are free. This meant they didn’t get any viral popularity through word of mouth, which is essential in these mobile platforms to gain reach.

Turnstyle technology

Quibi had a unique feature where users can watch a video in either horizontal or vertical mode on full screen. But in real world, this didn’t seem that useful as people often consumed mobile content in vertical view only

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