What is Quibi and why did it fail
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What is Quibi and Why Did it Fail?

Surviving in the market these days when there’s a lot of competition is really tough and I’ve come across many companies that have failed even before taking off. One of the biggest failures in my opinion was Quibi.

Some of you might remember Quibi as the app that promised the world, but in the end did not deliver on that promise, whereas some may not have even heard of the name Quibi until today.

That’s because the company was so short-lived that it didn’t last more than 7 months in the open market.

But what is Quibi and why did it fail? 

Read on as I cover all there is to know about this fallout of a company including 6 key reasons why I think they failed and three things they could have done to save the company.

What is Quibi and Why Did it Fail?

What is Quibi?

It was founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and was led by Meg Whitman who was its CEO at the time, but shut down in December of the same year from failing to acquire subscribers.

What is Quibi and why did it fail

Quibi hosted short content that was between 7-10 minutes long and was available to download from the App store and Play store in the US and Canada.

Early last year Quibi sold their entire library to the Roku Channel for under $100 million which  is why there are still some Quibi shows like FreeRayshawn that are available to watch if you have a Roku subscription.

Why Did Quibi Fail?

While both Katzenberg and Whitmen were exceptional businessmen, they had little knowledge about the online streaming space and it was clear from the way Quibi was developed.

Quibi was supposed to be a platform that could deliver short content to viewers on the go. So think of it like a regular 10 minute episode broken down into two parts and streamed over a period of days. 

Once people caught on to this their members dropped and there were very few downloads of their app.

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What is Quibi and why did it fail

In fact, the team handling Quibi did not put in the right amount of effort to market the app and this is one of the mistakes they made that eventually led to its downfall.

Another major factor that contributed to the downfall of Quibi was that it was entering a market that was dominated by Netflix and Prime Video at the time so it had very tough competition and sites like Prime and Netflix delivered long-form content which was what people were searching for at the height of the pandemic and while working from home.

It’s also good to note that at the time Quibi was charging around $5 for a regular subscription and $8 for an ad-free plan which was daylight robbery considering their content was not that interesting and Netflix as well as Prime Video offered subscription plans for pretty much the same price.

6 Reasons That I Feel Led to the Downfall of Quibi

#1 — Bad selection of content 

The first reason is the most obvious, Quibi was not prepared and their selection of stuff to watch was quite disappointing. 

What is Quibi and why did it fail

Their videos lacked flair and were not interesting at all. It came to a point where I could notice that most of the videos were things that I could find on Youtube for free. So it’s definitely not going to take off while charging a premium and delivering low-quality content.

#2 — They failed to attract an audience

Quibi was launched at a time where everyone was buried into their phones and it would have really taken off if it was interesting and user friendly. 

Not to say that the designers did a bad job developing the app, but the app itself did not receive much attention as there was lack of marketing from the companies side and no interest from the public.

#3 — There were internal problems

Quibi had loads of internal issues and the one that I feel could have definitely been the cause of the company’s downward spiral was the lack of mutual understanding between the founders. 

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There was a report in The Wall Street Journal which spoke about how Whitman threatened to leave the company as Katzenberg was “dictatorial” and treated her with lack of respect. 

Moreover, both founders had absolutely no knowledge of how mobiles were used for streaming and did not understand the concept of platforms such as TikTok and Netflix.

#4 — Subscription plans were priced really high

Another thing that I feel contributed to the failure of Quibi was the cost of their subscription plans. 

What is Quibi and why did it fail

At the time of its launch, Quibi was priced at around $5 for a normal subscription and $8 for a premium subscription that was ad-free. 

The price was too high for a short-form content with no interesting shows to watch and users stopped subscribing to the app once they found out the type of content it had.

#5 — The Pandemic struck

Probably one of the biggest drawbacks and reasons why Quibi  failed in the market was bad timing. 

Quibi was released when Covid-19 hit and since the main plan was to base Quibis content on public places in an open public setting, it couldn’t do so due to the restrictions imposed at the time. 

Quibi was unable to recover from this and could not adapt to the new norms which ultimately led to its demise.

#6 — Lack of features with the app

Quibi did not know the market and failed to connect with their target audience. The Quibi app was developed in a very weird manner that restricted users from sharing screenshots or downloads from the app. 

This resulted in the app receiving minimal traction and because users were unable to share videos from Quibi onto other social media platforms, the design of the app prevented it from having a natural fan base through virality.

3 Ways Quibi Could Have Succeeded

Most of the reasons that led to the downfall of Quibi could have been avoided if the management would have put in a little more effort in understanding the market and developing a truly user friendly app.

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Here is my take on what could have been done to help Quibi prosper.

  • First, both Katzenberg and Whitmen should have entered the market with some knowledge about the wants and needs of viewers. They should have first understood what people were watching and how the content was being delivered before entering this zone. 
  • Quibi should have marketed their app and put in some effort while doing so. They did not have many ads running or an online presence to help the app take off. Moreover, the limitation within the app that prevented users from sharing content severely restricted the platform from becoming viral online. It was a simple take down of a couple of lines of code from within the app that could have maybe saved it from failure.
  • Finally, Quibi should have provided the app for free and given users the ability to purchase additional content from within the app. Either that or at least given good content at the same price that was interesting and fun to watch. See, I don’t mind paying money for a subscription as long as I know I’m getting my money’s worth. Quibi didn’t deliver there and if they might have considered giving the app for free, then maybe it might have seen more users join their platform.

Takeaway

Quibi was destined to fail from the start. While the founders did nothing to prevent it from happening, a few slight changes to the business model and marketing strategy would have taken the app a long way.

Although the company did receive more than enough funding and was not short on cash, all that money went to waste when the founders themselves didn’t know anything about the online streaming space.

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