A Potential Netflix Killer Just Died!

Quibi shuts down after six months

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Quibi. Image from the Verge.

I remember watching this interesting trailer on YouTube. A rapid sequence of thrilling events ending in a cliffhanger. One needed to subscribe to Quibi to watch more. The promise was short, well-executed clips that are best suited for mobile viewing. Every time I watched the trailers, I was hooked to watch more. Yet there was a price tag. And I was in no mood to subscribe to one more streaming service. Well, the temptation is gone. Quibi, the once touted Netflix competitor folded this month.

The trailer that got me hooked!

What was Quibi?

Quibi short for Quick bites was launched six months ago (spring 2020). The founders were executives who once worked for Disney. The service was aimed at the 18–30 age group with a subscription fee of $7.99 for an ad-free version and $4.99 for an ad version. With $1.7B of investor money in the kitty, they were well-financed. Yet, they were jumping in a pool with sharks. Netflix sits at the top of the streaming empire. Disney, Hulu, Amazon all have their own bases. Perhaps, Quibi wanted to be the Twitter of streaming. But, it failed.

Possible reasons for the decline

The official reason the company executives gave is pandemic. Their videos were for mobile viewing. With everyone home and no dearth of time, there was no need for quick videos. The reason rings a bit hollow though. The pandemic could have been in a way perfect time to add followers if the service was free. If the same videos were on YouTube for free, the service would have added a lot of followers. After all, these shows looked slick and well produced. They even had shows lined up with Kevin Hart, Steven Spielberg, and Will Smith. A significant chunk of their targeted age group streams shows on cell phones or tablets. A bigger reason may be the price point. With no famous show on their service, there was no attraction to move to it. Some have even suggested that their shows were downright terrible. That makes $7.99 spent on Quibi even more nonsensical. After all, there is YouTube or even TikTok can provide free quick bite entertainment! It may not be as slick as Quibi but most folks have Netflix or HBO or one of the other streaming services for that. With the pandemic induced economic woes, there was even less reason to spend an additional amount on entertainment.

The end of Quibi poses interesting questions for streaming giants. The big ones like Netflix, Disney, HBO will do fine. Some of the Quibi shows I never got to watch may end up on the more popular services. But, what about all these smaller streaming apps — Peacock, CBS, Shudder? Let’s wait and watch!

Written by

Trained scientist; Business consultant; Armchair philosopher; I write on various topics including science, climate change, startups, and business.

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