Oh, Quibi. Quibi, Quibi, Quibi. Whatever will happen to you? No viewers want to pay you for your service, and now it seems not even Apple, a company very keen to jump-start its own streaming TV empire, is interested.
According to a report from The Information, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg pitched Apple’s Eddy Cue, vice president of software and services, on buying the service, only to be rebuffed.
So why doesn’t anyone want Quibi? Well, as The Information report notes, the company doesn’t permanently own the content on the service. In order to convince celebs and high-profile producers/directors/etc. to make videos for an untested, unproven concept, Quibi signed licensing deals that allow ownership to return to the creators to then sell to other streaming services after a short period. Why buy Quibi when you can snatch up the shows you actually want when Quibi’s license expires?
And that’s Quibi’s problem in a nutshell: a complete lack of foresight.
Here’s a short summary for those of you who, like me and everyone else you know, do not subscribe to Quibi: Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman launched Quibi, short for “quick bites”—I know, it’s awful—six months ago as a streaming service for people on the go. Unfortunately, we were well into the global covid-19 pandemic, confined to our homes with endless hours to watch content. Quibi, with its short-form original videos designed to be consumed in the small chunks of time we had breaks from our day, was not well-designed for this moment. And while it always seemed like a bit of a gambit to bet a large amount of money on content that people could only watch on their smartphones, the timing was, safe to say, incredibly unfortunate.
But instead of doing literally anything to make watching Quibi a better experience so that people would actually want to pay for it, Quibi’s team of execs let the service flounder. There was no free tier at launch (which the company is now testing), and no way to watch shows on a TV or a larger screen (which the company eventually reversed course on, but far too late). There were no breakout hits, either. I mean, hell, even Apple TV+ has Ted Lasso, which I have not watched yet but plan to now that everyone in my life/on Twitter is raving about it.
Don’t feel bad for Quibi. Its executives will continue to fail upward in the entertainment industry. The well-known stars of its original series will go on to make shows that people may actually watch. And you still have the $5 in your account each month—a total of $30!—that did not go toward Quibi. Everyone wins.