Quibi Founder Blames Coronavirus for Service’s Failure, Ignoring That It’s a Dumb Idea With no Content


A few weeks ago, you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for Quibi explaining what Quibi is. Now that it’s launched, it turns out it’s just shitty TV shows you have to watch on your phone. And after making a big deal about getting around 1.5 million downloads in their first week, the app has since fallen off the “most downloaded” charts and everyone is calling it a massive failure/boondoggle.

Quibi’s founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg believes he’s done nothing wrong and the only reason Quibi is failing is because of the coronavirus pandemic. This makes sense because obviously a streaming video service isn’t going to do well during a time when people have nothing to do other than watch TV and play video games.

Okay, so Quibi wasn’t designed to be watched at home. Its few scripted shows are basically just movies broken up into seven-minute chapters and Reno 9-11. And by the way, I counted four scripted shows. Everything else is reality shows and news.

Oh, and you can’t watch it on a TV. It doesn’t even have an iPad app, it’s just one of those doubled-up iPhone apps. And the landscape view of the shows appears to be mostly cropped from the portrait view. No one wants to watch TV in portrait mode unless they’re some kind of deviant.

One of the big problems with Quibi is its business model is charging $8 a month for content meant to be watching while you’re taking a s**t at work. I can watch YouTube videos for free while I’m taking a s**t. It doesn’t help that nothing on Quibi even comes close to being as good as The Katering Show, either.

Seriously, that is Monty Python level comedy from The Kates right there. Throw in Binging with Babish and JonTron and you’ve already got more content than Quibi and that’s like, an insignificant fraction of the amount of content on YouTube.

Of course YouTube has more raw content than every streaming service but other streaming services aren’t trying to be YouTube Premium, something that YouTube also tried and failed at being. Streamers like Netflix attract customers with TV shows and movies they want to watch; Quibi’s advertising strategy has basically been “here’s something to watch while you’re friend gets a handjob in the bathroom at the club.”

Katzenberg could be right that the reason Quibi is failing is the coronavirus, but I don’t think anyone ever seriously believed this was going to catch on. It’s the sort of idea that CEOs think is really good when you use a bunch of buzzwords to sell it to them but no one in the real world.

Think about it, the pitch was basically “Well, people are watching videos made by amateurs on their phones for free, of course they’ll pay eight dollars a month to watch shows with minor celebrities like Tituss Burgess or Chrissy Teigen!” But are you reading this thinking “oh, I was excited for Quibi but I didn’t download it because I’m stuck inside,” or are you thinking “I had no interest in Quibi whatsoever. Maybe Inkind of want to see the new Reno 9-11s, but that’s it.” It’s the second one, isn’t it?

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