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    Quibi: Lessons Learned from a Spectacular Failure

    Who hasn’t heard of Quibi yet? The recent shutdown of the short-form video-streaming platform, which offered short snippets of shows and movies for travellers and commuters, has been a hot topic for the press but also for us as marketers. In fact, Quibi’s fail has been so massive that, according to Stephen Beck, it will be included as a case study at Harvard Business School on what not to do when launching a streaming service.

    What exactly went so wrong with the new big media player to result in such an early exit scenario, just over 6 months after launching in April? Check out our selection of key points:

    • Bad timing: Quibi’s 5- to 10-minute chunks of news and entertainment designed to be watched on mobile phones exclusively by people on the go failed to gain subscribers amid the pandemic. COVID-19 upended travel patterns and found the audience stuck inside their homes, essentially with no “in-between” moments. 
    • Selling an unknown service to a mass audience: Quibi was initially meant to revolutionize Hollywood by charging for short-form videos that subscribers would watch on the go, but the weak idea failed to prove viable to justify a standalone streaming service. According to Gene Del Vecchio, an entertainment marketing expert, what happened was, they were too much trying to explain the service rather than saying this is the killer content that you need to have the app to see.
    • Competition from established brands: Quibi has also had to contend with a growing list of competing streaming services from Disney, Comcast, AT&T, Netflix, and Apple. Young adults and Gen Z consumers already had YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Instagram and were perplexed by Katzenberg’s idea to make “movies” on Quibi, broken up into “chapters” of roughly 10 minutes each. 
    • Not up to consumers’expectations: Quibi struggled to attract subscribers from the start and those who did tune in criticized the app’s inability to allow them to make screenshots and share content on social media – a feature that could have helped generate word-of-mouth excitement.
    • There is a market for that – just not a premium market. According to Michael Goodman, an analyst with Strategy Analytics quoted by The New York Times, the market spoke that chunking up premium content is not what consumers want. They like short-form video: news clips, sports clips, beauty. There is a market for that. It’s just not a premium market. 

    While Quibi has decided to cease operations, return $350 million to investors and say goodbye to their colleagues with grace, its story remains as a kind reminder of how fragile – and costly – an otherwise innovative endeavor at the wrong time, and with the wrong assumptions, could be. Stay tuned for further insights on the current marketing topics and keep following our Marketing Bites.