Why Quibi Failed: 5 Causes the Brief Type Streamer Dipped So Quick


On Wednesday evening, Quibi's app recommended that users check out Last Looks, a short documentary directed by Dakota Fanning about crimes related to fashion. Last Looks had another, even more ominous meaning: it will be one of the last shows to premiere on the streaming service.

A little over six months after the fanfare premiered on April 6, Quibi founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman announced to investors on Wednesday that the streaming service would be discontinued. Meanwhile, a source told Adweek that news of the platform's imminent demise told some Quibi employees.

In an open letter posted Wednesday evening, Katzenberg and Whitman "deeply apologized" for the streaming service's staggering failure.

“We have developed a new form of mobile-first-premium storytelling. And yet Quibi is not successful, ”wrote the executives in the letter published on Medium. "Probably for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn't strong enough to warrant a stand-alone streaming service, or because of our timing. Unfortunately we'll never know, but we suspect it was a combination of the two. "

But in Quibi's short six months there have been many warning signs – many of them evident from the start – that things were going south.

Quibi prioritized brand marketing over content marketing

Quibi offered investors and creatives what has been termed innovation: short-form programming for consumption on mobile screens with the star power and production value of Hollywood. At the end of the day, however, Quibi had programs people could watch and competed with other well-funded entertainment companies, all of whom were trying to differentiate themselves with original programming. Failure to market this programming to consumers was Quibi's first mistake.

While the company invested top dollars to attract high profile stars, much of the service's early marketing wasn't focused on those individual shows. Instead, Quibi focused marketing messages – including an expensive 30-second Super Bowl ad – on the brand of the platform itself, trying to get people interested in the concept of the app rather than the programming it contained.

This approach was in contrast to many streamers who use their original programming to raise awareness of their services before moving on to general branding. “When you're in the theater and you're previewing and showing the content, lean against the person next to you and say, 'Yes or no? "I want to see this or not," Jenna Isken, Associate Director of Experience at brand strategy firm Siegel + Gale, told Adweek earlier this year. "Very seldom do we say," Isn't what Pixar or Paramount just released great? "

Quibi eventually changed course and focused some of his marketing on individual shows after the service got off to a tepid start. But by then it was already losing momentum.

The platform had few, if any, outstanding shows

When Quibi debuted in April, it had a lot: 50 original series that set the tone in terms of programming taste, with unwritten shows, series thrillers, competitive shows, horror series, and daily news updates. In fact, Quibi had so much original programming on hand that it should last the platform through Thanksgiving, Whitman previously told Adweek.

"It has to get subscribers, and it has to keep them long-term, so it won't hurt to just get a hit here and there."

Dan Rayburn, Principal Analyst, Frost and Sullivan

What Quibi had in quantity, however, lacked quality, popularity, or both. Even with all of the new program options, none of them became a particular highlight among the viewers. Some, like Murder House Flip, Gayme Show, and The Most Dangerous Game, made an easy breakthrough on social media; others, like The Golden Arm with Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, were only heard because they were outright ridiculed.

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Jeffrey Rabinowitz