Okay Boomer, No one wants Quibi
Quibi, short for “Quick Bites”, was a short form streaming service designed for mobile devices. With 2 billion people watching short-form content every day, Jeffrey Katzenburg (co-creator of DreamWorks) saw an opportunity to capitalize on this market and deliver highly produced, premium content in short-form.
The target audience was young professionals who would be on the go with short breaks throughout their day to turn to their phones for entertainment. It was predicted Quibi would acquire 7 million users in its first year, a massive miscalculation.
Quibi offered a 90 day free period when it debuted in April. By July, there were nearly 1 million users, but only 72,000 of these users were paid subscribers. Users had decided the content on Quibi was not worth paying for.
Katzenburg is quick to blame the failure of Quibi on the pandemic alone. Sure, an app designed for people on the go has no place in a world where people are not allowed to leave their houses. However, defining your market as busy young professionals who spend 2 hours a day on the subway greatly limits your market in the first place. Secondly, short-form applications like Tik Tok took off during the pandemic, and other streaming services benefited from people staying home.
We can look at the content itself. $1.75 billion sounds like a lot, but it is a drop in the bucket when compared to the $17 billion Netflix has to shell out on content. Netflix also has a “pause” button. Users can watch better content on Netflix, and simply hit the “pause” button when they run out of time to watch. Furthermore, 10 minutes was simply not enough time to develop a quality storyline for viewers to become invested in the content provided by Quibi.
Although Quibi featured content produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Kevin Hart or Jennifer Lawrence, people are just not obsessed with celebrities like they used to be. The content should have gone to influencers instead, as no one cared to spend that much money to see celebrities. That brings us to the most pertinent explanation for Quibi’s failure — they did not understand their market.
Just because Katzenberg wanted to bring this content to the audience, did not mean that the audience wanted it. With its short-form competitors like Tik Tok, Snapchat, and YouTube being free, there was simply no space for a Boomer to bring his paid content to Millennials and Gen Z.
Organically grown content is rising in the world of short-form videos, and the viewers watching and sharing this content are deciding what is cool (Quibi did not have a sharing feature, which would have been free marketing with viral videos). Yet, it’s clear this valuable demographic was either ignored or not understood by the Quibi team, ultimately contributing to its demise.