What happened to Quibi?

Quibi was an American short-form streaming platform for mobile devices, founded in 2018 by Jeffrey Katzenberg and targeted a younger demographic by delivering content in 10-minute episodes called “quick bites”. Once the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the audience Quibi was targeting was forced to stay at home and as a result, consumed content through more traditional channels. Just eight months after launch, Quibi shut down in December 2020.


Quibi was an American short-form streaming platform for mobile devices. 

It was founded in 2018 by Jeffrey Katzenberg and targeted a younger demographic by delivering content in 10-minute episodes called “quick bites”.

While Katzenberg managed to raise $2 billion and secure Hollywood talent to produce content, the platform was built on the premise that people would watch streaming content on the go. 

Once the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the audience Quibi was targeting was forced to stay at home and as a result, consumed content through more traditional channels. Just eight months after launch, Quibi shut down in December 2020.

History will show that Quibi’s launch in April 2020 coincided with a world in lockdown, but there are many other reasons for its demise.

Poor quality content

For a streaming service to remain viable, it needs to host high-quality content. 

Quibi was notorious for offering mediocre content studios and networks had been trying to sell for years. While many can recall several of their favorite Amazon or Netflix productions, the same cannot be said for Quibi. Granted, it did score ten Emmy nominations for short-form content. But it was routinely up against content from free platforms such as YouTube.

The lack of decent viewing was particularly troublesome when one considers the billions of dollars invested in Hollywood talent and projects from top production studios.

Lack of adaptability 

Quibi was intended for viewing on smartphones, but executives were reluctant to consider alternatives even as the world changed around them.

Stuck at home, consumers watched content on their televisions. Support for Apple AirPlay and Google Chromecast was eventually added, but it disabled Quibi’s Turnstyle technology – a feature that gave the company its sole point of difference. 

What’s more, support for Roku and Fire TV was famously added just one day before Katzenberg announced the end of Quibi.

Lack of social sharing

Even if Quibi-produced content was worth sharing, users had no way to share clips or screenshots from television shows or films.

This lack of functionality showed that Quibi executives failed to recognize the changing landscape of home entertainment. Content must be interactive and able to be shared across social media networks.


Quibi charged $5 per month for its low-quality content or $8 per month for an ad-free experience.

Free content on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok represented far better value for money, so it’s not difficult to see how Quibi struggled to attract users.

There was also significant competition from established players at similar price points. If nothing else, this highlighted the extremely poor price to quality ratio of Quibi content.

Improper and inadequate marketing

Quibi executives also failed to properly market the platform. An expensive Super Bowl ad failed to tell consumers what was being offered and was run several months before the platform was ready to be launched.

For whatever reason, Quibi was also never advertised on similar platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Many consumers were simply unaware of its existence. 

Key takeaways:

  • Quibi was an American short-form streaming service for smartphones. Unfortunate timing with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is at least partly responsible for the failure of the platform.
  • Despite billions being invested in securing high-end talent and production studios, Quibi content was generally poor quality. In any case, there was no way for consumers to share or engage with the content they did enjoy.
  • Quibi was not helped by its pricing strategy and the presence of established competitors offering more for less. It was also improperly and inadequately marketed.

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