For a while now, many T.V shows/series lovers have been complaining about 10 minutes per episode series. The complaints have now run from very short episodes to why their favourite actors and actresses are “downgrading” by featuring in such content.
A streaming service called Quibi was the cause of all the anger, frustrations, and complaints. Launched in April 2020 (yes, in the middle of a pandemic), Quibi short form for Quick Bites, offered simple and short content on its streaming service targeting mobile phone users.
Quibi aimed at providing high-quality movies and series via its streaming services in form of short “bites” of 10 minutes each relayed only on your phone to further emphasize their target market. Targeting mobile phone users looked like a feasible project because today, people interface with their phones daily more than any other electronic device. Among the current players in this market, Quibi wanted to topple the likes of TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube daily.
On average, 1 billion hours of YouTube content is streamed a day and more than half of it on mobile devices. It was this very fact that drove a push for a new mobile phone-based streaming platform providing original professionally built content.
The biggest target was people on a move in a train, bus, or taxi but would want to catch up on something small on their phone during in the time they spend between departure and destination, a thing many do with YouTube.
On its launch, there was a lot of excitement around it because of its founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg is a respected man in the entertainment industry having worked with Walt Disney Studios and DreamWorks Studios to produce numerous content.
Quibi was aiming at toppling platforms like YouTube and TikTok with short and entertaining content
With his high profile in Hollywood, the 69-year-old managed to attract many investors into his latest brainchild. He was able to convince big companies like J.P Morgan, BBC Studios, Sony Pictures, Alibaba Group, The Walt Disney Group, Goldman Sachs among others who invested a tune of above $1 billion.
Katzenberg also managed to convince some big Hollywood names like Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lopez, Liam Hemsworth, Steven Spielberg, Queen Latifah among others to fund his startup. With the funding and stars secured, production of 8,500 original Quibi content commenced. Fans were entitled to part with $4.99 (UGX 18,500) and $7.99 (UGX 29,622) as monthly subscriptions to have access to content.
However, the expectations did not fruit into reality as very few people were subscribing to Quibi’s content. The platform was launched during a time when the lockdown was taking over the world like a wildfire.
People were now no longer travelling as they did previously henceforth maintaining their traditional binge methods that are over larger screens. There is also the fact Quibi’s first shows were not very eye-catching despite having a great line up of stars at their disposal.
After about 7 months of zero highs in the market, founder Jeffrey Katzenberg finally pulled the plug on Quibi saying: “We are winding down the business and looking to sell it is content and technology assets”.
Quibi is to officially shut down on December 1 2020, and uncertainty looms around many of its original shows since some like Liam Hemsworth’s Most Dangerous had been renewed for season 2. Will they be taken up by other streaming platforms? Will they follow Quibi’s path? Only the future will tell.
On the side of investors, they’ll be paid back but it is not expected to be the full initial investments. On how much will be paid back to the investors, Quibi CEO Meg Whitman said, “We will see what the marketplace will bear. But we think they will be much more to return to shareholders than just the cash that has been reported.”
Also read: Netflix Introduces Free Streaming for Users
Author: Katende Basajjabaka
Katende writes about sports and occasionally technology.