RIP Quibi, we hardly knew ye and never really cared to. The ill-fated streamer, created Jeffrey Katzenberg and led by Meg Whitman, has crashed and burned merely six months after it launched. Raising over $1.75 billion in capital to deliver “quick bites” to mobile customers, it was a bad idea poorly executed.
Quickly becoming the entertainment industry’s punching bag for its confusing structure and bizarre series, more than anything Quibi’s strange rise and instant fail made it look like some kind of scheme from the start (and I’m still not fully convinced it isn’t).
Since its launch in April, Quibi’s original content totled 8,500 short-form episodes from more than 175 shows, which each episode averaging 10 minutes or less. This was Quibi’s big bet: that viewers wanted to watch bite-sized content that was still serialized and available all at once so … what was the point again? Its other big revolution was that viewers could swap between a 16:9 horizontal aspect ratio or a 9:16 vertical frame, a nightmare for directors and something honestly no one ever asked for or wanted. And we can say that definitively now. (Blame COVID all you want, Quibi was never made for this world).
Despite some desperate attempts to normalize its service by allowing screenshots (that initially prevented some of its weirder content from going viral—another baffling misstep) and allowing it to be played via Airplay or Chromecast, it was too late. By then, its fate was sealed (notably, we ranked it last by a wide margin in our list of 2019-2020 streaming service launches, of which there were many).
Recently, Katzenberg attempted to sell the service and its library (another note: it bizarrely never owned its own series), but no one wanted to touch it. Now, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Quibi is shutting down.
I do not delight in the news that people will lose jobs, but Quibi was a disaster from the start and I will not shed a tear for it. It was a colossal waste of time, effort, and most especially money. It’s downright shameful. So for that, we cannot have any sympathy towards this shambles of a company.
As our own Jacob Oller Tweeted, “Quibi lived for 4,752 hours (or around ~28.5K Quick Bites).”
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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