In the battle of the streaming services, Quibi is calling it quits. The newcomer that promised to deliver short form scripted and unscripted content was unable to outshine in an already saturated market. Back in February, countless ads promoting Quibi were everywhere, but never got us all that excited. Curious, maybe?
The short-lived streaming service will officially drop the curtain in the upcoming months. With hundreds of employees left jobless and dozens of projects in a state of limbo, Quibi is a $1.75 billion experiment gone wrong. Here’s a look into Quibi, the little app that thought it could and then it so didn’t.
A New Generation of Storytelling
In a world with Netflix, Disney+, HBOMax and every other streaming service you can think of, Hollywood legends –Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman launched Quibi back in April 2020. Katzenberg pitched Quibi as “nothing less than the evolution of storytelling for a younger demographic”. The company sought to distinguish itself from known streaming titans by creating “quick bites”, content delivered in ten-minute episodes. Aside from an express delivery, all content promised to be an on-the-go experience designed specifically for us to watch on our phones. Quibi even became the first streaming service to present Turnstyle, the company’s patented tech that rotates a show’s perspective.
Turnstyle: The Secret Weapon
Ahead of the streaming service’s launch, Quibi founders unveiled their clever feature known as Turnstyle. Through it, users of Quibi would be able to switch from vertical to horizontal views, allowing them to experience scenes the way filmmakers shot them. The feature was intended to be fun and interactive, but along came COVID-19 and TikTok was probably the app we were all using on our phones. Turnstyle may have been Quibi’s secret weapon at the start of 2020, but it was never designed with the idea of us being stuck at home. This is one failure we can all probably chalk up as a victim of the ongoing pandemic.
Great Actors, Not So Great Shows
The biggest challenge Quibi faced was the same as any other streaming service, giving viewers content they would want to pay for. Sure, there were some big A-listers like Sophie Turner, Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz, among others, but the shows they starred in weren’t riveting at all. Turner’s Survive was another plane crash survivor tale while Hemsworth’s Most Dangerous Game didn’t live up to it’s star-studded cast. At the cost of $5 a month or $8 without any ads, Quibi was another expense in our wallets and there wasn’t really anything worth the money.
Eko Sues Quibi Over Turnstyle Tech
If trying to make yourself stand out in a sea of similar faces wasn’t hard enough, Quibi also had to deal with a lawsuit following their launch. Eko, the interactive video app, claimed that Quibi’s Turnstyle feature was a copy of their own patented tech and had stolen it after the two companies had met months before. After months of finger pointing and conflicting complaints, a federal judge ruled in favor of Quibi this past June. However, Eko has since chosen to appeal and continue their battle against Quibi.
The Subscriber Struggle
Quibi aimed too high in a year that just had too much going on. By August there were numerous reports stating that over 90 percent of Quibi users had opted out just before their three-month free trial expired. Although the company was quick to slam down the reports, it was starting to become clear that Quibi was failing. The app struggled against compelling content on other platforms like Hamilton on Disney+ and Netflix’s most viewed show, Ratched.
One Final Effort To Keep Afloat
With millions still keeping safe at home, Quibi execs made the decision to venture away from their original vision of it being a mobile-first video service. Quibi’s quick-bite originals landed on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google TV in a scrambled to earn more subscribers. But it was all a little too late. The last minute attempt to bring Quibi into our living rooms was announced with little fanfare and immediately whispers of a sellout began circulating.
Quibi Will Shut Down On December 1
In an open letter to Quibi employees, partners and investors, founders Katzenberg and Whitman confirmed they were closing up shop. The founders attribute the lack of success to “the idea of Quibi not being strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service and because of the timing it was released”. Whether or not Quibi would have achieved a better standing amongst its competition had COVID-19 not happened, we will never know.
A Revolutionary Failure
Since the announcement on Oct. 22, it continues to be unclear what will happen to Quibi’s extensive and expensive line of shows. Many were set to return for a second seasons while others were just about to commence filming. At the moment there isn’t any news of another company making a grab for Quibi’s remains. For now, say goodbye to Quibi, the shortest-lived streaming service in the entertainment industry.