Quibi shuts down streaming service amidst pandemic

Whoa. That was quick. Like a short form video, six months after Quibi’s official streaming launch it has announced it is shutting down.

Short form video streaming service, and the brainchild of former Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, announced Wednesday that it was shuttering for good, just six months after just launching n April. 

“Although the circumstances were not right for Quibi to succeed as a standalone company, our team achieved much of what we set out to accomplish, and we are tremendously proud,” the executives said in an open letter to employees, partners and investors. 

No one could possibly have seen this turn of events, except, you know, everyone who wasn’t a part of Quibi itself. 

Despite its glossy, expensive production (and $1.75 billion of investment), A-list talent (including the likes of Chrissy Teigen, Kevin Hart and Steven Spielberg) and heavy marketing, Quibi was doomed from the beginning.

As Katzenberg and Whitman noted in their open letter, the service was originally intended to fill the little bits of time people have waiting in line at Starbucks or sitting on a bus for a commute. The changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the demand for entertainment while out and about.

Also read: Even with approval, Disney; Universal to remain closed

But if Quibi had launched in an alternate version of 2020 where the pandemic never happened, it likely still would have failed. The concept of expensively produced “quick bites” of programming (“Quibi” is a portmanteau of the phrase) sounds appealing, but in practice, Quibi did not speak to any audience, either with its content or its technology.

While the videos were all 10 minutes or less, the series mostly paused the narrative at the end of episodes rather than coming up with any kind of satisfactory ending. There was no story reason for anything to be that short for most of these series and “movies in chapters.” Viewers can pause a Netflix show 10 minutes in and come back to it later, if they want. 

There might have been some version of Quibi that worked – one with a less silly name, internet-fluent content creators, more social media integration, and launched before a pandemic happened. 

But that’s not the Quibi we got. What we got was an ill-advised, way overpriced and over-produced streaming service that launched into a world that had no need for it. 

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Not the short-story version Quibi wanted, but it’s what it got.