Video streaming, live or on-demand, has long been a profitable market but the number of consumers and services surged during this pandemic. Not all of those new services have survived to tell the tale and one high-profile name will be joining them in the Internet’s graveyard of dead dreams. Quibi, which its proponents hailed would be the next big thing in social videos, has ironically yet also fittingly become as short-lived as its short-form videos.
To many, however, there have always been doubts about Quibi’s long-term chances. The streaming platform only had room for short videos up to 10 minutes in length, delivered as chapters in a format best suited for viewing on a phone in portrait orientation, sort of a mashup between TikTok and Instagram Stories but with more permanent content. It was almost billed like Netflix for short, smartphone-centric videos and even charged a subscription fee for that.
Unlike TikTok or Netflix, however, Quibi failed to catch on despite some of Hollywood’s big names somewhat reluctantly rallying behind it. Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former Disney exec and a DreamWorks co-founder, used his industry clout to secure investments and ads. Now the company has decided to return the $350 million capital to investors rather than accumulate more costs and debt in trying to salvage Quibi.
The service’s demise was, unsurprisingly, blamed partly on COVID-19. As a platform designed for mobile consumption on the go, Quibi’s appeal became less attractive as people remained at home, even when it finally supported Android TV and Apple TV this week. The company’s top execs, however, also admit that the very premise of the service itself might not have been strong enough to warrant a standalone service, let alone a $4.99 subscription fee.
Quibi will be completely shutting down and its employees laid off, thankfully with severance pay. The company, however, is looking to still squeeze out as much as it can by selling rights to the content already there. And with a hardly memorable name, Quibi will soon be nothing more than a footnote in history as one of those that tried to compete with Netflix and YouTube and failed spectacularly.