Oh Quibi, we hardly knew ye. Just six months after its grand debut, Quibi is shutting its doors after exhausting all other options to save the company and its assets. Who would’ve thought that launching amidst one of the worst pandemics in human history would be a bad move?
As the first of the major streaming platforms to go bust, pundits will be analysing Quibi’s demise for quite some time. After all, how do you go from having £1.75 billion in funding to going out of business in half a year?
To be fair to Quibi, I don’t think that its core concept was an outright disaster, but the company couldn’t have picked a worse time to launch. Let’s face it, the idea of watching short-form content on your phone can only really appeal to one group of society: commuters. Introduce a global pandemic that forces those same commuters to work from home, and Quibi lost the key audience it was banking on.
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Once society was told to stay indoors, Quibi didn’t stand a chance against the likes of Netflix and Prime Now. After all, if I was trying to forget about the impending doom going on all around me, I’d rather binge a long-form series that I can get lost in, than a bunch of 5-minute episodes that fly past my face at an anxiety-inducing pace.
Despite the uphill battle it had to endure, I do believe that Quibi could have weathered the storm if it had adopted a different strategy, one that incorporated home-grown content into the mix. Despite its attempts to drag us all down, 2020 has seen no lack of creativity – a trend that has been encapsulated perfectly by TikTok.
I’ll gladly admit that I can’t stand TikTok. Scores of tweens going backwards up the stairs whilst lip syncing just doesn’t appeal to me, but I have to hand it to the company for dominating the content creation scene throughout 2020. Given that Quibi was so desperate to make smartphones the central hub of entertainment, it seems surprising that the app wanted to follow in the footsteps of Netflix and not the likes of TikTok or Instagram.
In an ideal scenario, Quibi could have opened up the gates to independent and wannabe filmmakers who record primarily on their phone. Sure, you could still have the high budget stuff to lure people in, but it would be the discovery of new talent (and potentially the opportunity to go viral and make your mark in the streaming business) that would have kept people around.
To that end, Quibi could’ve also been the platform of choice for established filmmakers looking to flex their creative muscle. Whether its Steven Soderbergh shooting Unsane on an iPhone 7 Plus, or David Fincher’s animated anthology series Love, Death and Robots, there’s a clear pattern of Hollywood’s greatest wanting to break free of the mould from time to time, and Quibi might have been the perfect outlet for these endeavours.
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I do hope that in some years, once 2020 is long gone in the rear view mirror, that someone tries to have another go at the Quibi concept but takes the idea even further. Lord knows I don’t want to live in a world where the next hit series is a TikTok exclusive where dogs deliver the news. Actually, scrap that, that sounds great.