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Year in review: Quibi’s spectacular crash and burn

This December, we’re reviewing 2020 in media. From television to video games, passing by our beloved virtual reality, we selected some key events that marked this strange, yet momentous year.

1. Quibi’s crash and burn

As of December 1st, short-form video streaming service Quibi is officially a thing of the past. After just 9 months since the app’s much-hyped launch, Quibi’s few remaining users won’t be able to log in anymore and watch the now-infamous 10-minute-long episodes that constituted its shows.

Watching Quibi tanking over the months was premium schadenfreude, the German word indicating the joy that comes from witnessing the failures of someone else.

Storytelling-wise, Quibi’s spectacular crash and burn (two very wealthy people failing! A lot of money involved! In the midst of a pandemic!) was far more entertaining than the TV series proposed on the app.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past months (understandably so, considering the global situation), the gist of the story is pretty simple. Quibi was launched in April. Originally, it was a mobile-only streaming service featuring short, bite-sized original programming (Quibi stood for “quick bites”). It was helmed by Jeffrey Katzenberg (former Disney chairman and Dreamworks co-founder) and Meg Whitman (former CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise). Together, they raised a whopping $1 billion to create and launch the app. They snapped up big names to create content including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez and LeBron James (Spielberg’s After Dark was supposed to be a horror series that you could watch only after sunset—the kind of idea that sounds very cool only if you don’t think about it too much).

Alas, despite the generous amount of money injected into the project, Quibi never really took off, people didn’t subscribe to it and, after a few attempts to change u-turn things on-the-go, the company announced their intention to shut down for good on the 1st of December, which was yesterday.

But why did Quibi fail? What kind of lessons can streaming services learn from this crash and burn? What, on the opposite, worked really well but just didn’t have the opportunity to shine?

To answer these questions, we selected three excellent articles on the topic:

1) The fall of Quibi: how did a starry $1.75bn Netflix rival crash so fast?, by Adrian Horton, The Guardian.

2) Lessons from Quibi’s stuttering start, by Stephen Foley, The Financial Times

3) In defense of Quibi, by Peter Kafka, Vox

Credit header image: Boing Boing – Quibi


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