Quibi, from promising start to industry laughingstock

We’re lovin’on the title of this article from washingtonpost.com (Paywall Alert!) because not only does it perfectly encapsulate what Sonia Rao has written below, it also shows how right William Goldman’s famous paragraph truly is.

Yeppers, friends and neighbors, we’re talking about this paragraph:

“Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

And the following article:

by Sonia Rao

t takes a lot to break into the news cycle nowadays. But for Quibi, the mobile-friendly streaming platform launched in April, catastrophic failure seems to have done the trick. Veteran executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman waged an astonishing $1.8 billion in investments on what initially seemed an okay idea: short, digestible entertainment starring famous actors, designed to be watched on the go.

Unfortunately for Quibi, a portmanteau of “quick bites,” nobody was hungry.

Especially with the number of onetime commuters now glued to their couches, more people have probably read articles explaining Quibi and its unfortunate beginnings than have actively engaged with the app itself. (Those who remember Juicero, the widely mocked Silicon Valley start-up, will find this dynamic familiar.) The New York Times reported in May that, a week after its launch, Quibi no longer ranked in the top 50 most downloaded free iPhone apps. Out of the 3.5 million people the company said downloaded the app — a third party quoted 2.9 million, per the Times — only 1.3 million were active users.

Like clockwork, the Quibi conversation picked up again this week thanks to a thoroughly reported piece published by Vulture: “Is anyone watching Quibi?” it asked. Below, in an attempt to uncover why the company’s struggles are so difficult to look away from, especially when its content is not, we explore the platform’s life cycle, from its promising inception to a presumed reckoning.


Quibi owes its existence in part to the success of “The Da Vinci Code,” according to Vulture, which stated that Katzenberg viewed the 105-chapter format as “validation of the thesis that consumers want entertainment in small chunks.” As the former Walt Disney Studios head and DreamWorks co-founder, Katzenberg had earned a level of trust that even Dan Brown skeptics couldn’t take away.

The idea, to be fair, made sense on paper. Spanning five to 10 minutes each, Quibi episodes would be easily watched on phones while in transit. Celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Anna Kendrick, or creators such as Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro, would attract viewers with their names alone. The app would be easily navigated, its episodes viewable in both portrait and landscape mode, depending on preference….

Read it all at washingtonpost.com

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