31. The Downfall of Quibi: The Story of an Expensive Failure! (English Vocabulary Lesson)

Today we will discuss the failure of Quibi! I guess many of you are asking, “what is Quibi?” You’re probably not alone. Quibi was supposed to be the next big thing in online videos, attracting billions of dollars in investments before it launched earlier this year. On the 1st December, however, Quibi ended for ever. We’ll look at the history of Quibi, its unique selling points, and talk about why it failed.

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Vocabulary List

Platform (n) – a method of communication or entertainment like television, radio, or the internet

This podcast is available on a number of podcasting platforms, including Apple podcasts, Spotify, and Google podcasts!

Content (n) – the information and experiences that are directed to an end-user or audience

She has been producing Youtube content for 5 years!

To tailor (v) – to adjust something to suit a particular need or situation

Their services are tailored to client’s need 

amalgamation (n) – the action or process of uniting or merging two or more things

Opera is an amalgamation of singing, acting, and stagecraft

Orientation (n) – arrangement or direction

The building has an east-west orientation

To consume (v) – to use something such as fuel, energy, money, content or time, especially in large quantities

This device will monitor how much energy your household appliances are consuming at any time

To break down (Phrasal v) – to break down something such as idea or statement means to separate it into smaller parts in order to make it easier to understand or deal with 

The report breaks down the results region by region

Up-and-coming (adj) – likely to achieve success soon or in the near future

She is an up-and-coming actress

Quibi is dead. Oh, sorry, I probably need to give you some more details. A few years ago i was listening to a number of different podcasts and was reading articles which all mentioned that a new platform was being developed that would revolutionise the way we watch video content online. It was to rival Netflix, Amazon prime, Hulu, Youtube, and any of other streaming services, by producing content specifically designed to watch on mobile devices and tailored to the current video viewing habits! This new platform was Quibi. 

At the start of 2020, Quibi (an amalgamation of the words quick bite) was seen by some in the entertainment industry as the future of smartphone entertainment. The shows available on Quibi were shot so that they could be watched full-screen in both portrait and landscape mode, with viewers able to switch with a turn of their handset. On other platforms, full screen is available only in one orientation, with a black border surrounding the video if watched the other way around! Some people were certainly confident about Quibi’s potential. In fact, the company had raised $1.8bn (£1.37bn) in funding from investors by the time it launched – a significant sum of money. These investors included Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Viacom, and Alibaba. Furthermore, the company was founded and run by highly experienced and respected business minds and entertainment producers., including former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Major players in traditional media also signed up to produce content on Quibi; such as the BBC which created a daily news program!

What was unique about Quibi? As i already mentioned, they aimed to produce content specifically designed for mobile devices. A unique selling point of the platform was that videos were created in both vertical and horizontal formats, and the app would automatically switch between them when the viewer turned their smartphone. This reflected the growing trend in people consuming content through their mobile devices! The other major selling point was that the shows produced would be of Netflix quality, broken into segments of 10 minutes or less, in order to appeal to 25- to 35-year-olds on the go. Longer films would be broken down into shorter chunks. Quibi’s videos had been advertised as being ideal for short breaks or commuting. When the app launched earlier this year, it attracted 1.7 million downloads in the first week alone. Six months later, the company was no longer.

What went wrong with Quibi? Well, quite a lot. I don’t know if i’ll be able to list them all here, but i’ll give it a go!  To start with, it had a terrible name. To be fair to the company, you never know whether or not it will catch on. However the name Quibi was not clear; it is a made up word without an apparent meaning; it is not immediately obvious that it stands for Quick Bites, and even when you learn this it doesn’t clear up what type of company it is. The company’s programming line up was also confusing and mismatched. They invested aggressively in series with recognizable names attached, such as Most Dangerous Game, starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; Dummy, starring Anna Kendrick; and Thanks a Million, a reality show produced by Jennifer Lopez. However, the company made no attempt to bring over up-and-coming talent that has proven incredibly successful on YouTube, instead relying on established Hollywood big names! Although there are other reasons the platform failed, the final one I will mention today is the pandemic!! Quibi was designed for smartphones and to be used by busy professional commuting and on breaks. Then the pandemic happened, and people were no longer needing to commute or watch content on smartphones everyday. People had more time to watch longer form content, and had more access to TVs, Laptops, Computers, and Tablets. Quibi’s unique selling point was no longer in demand!

Quibi themselves released a statement earlier this year, saying that “Quibi is not succeeding. Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing.”

Final Thought

Why do you think Quibi failed? Actually, had you ever heard of Quibi? I don’t think it was really designed for the international market. In fact, when the platform shut down they only had about 400,000 subscribers (down from a predicted 8 million). Quibi was designed by mainstream Hollywood and big business executives to compete with new internet orientated streaming platforms and social media. Why do some companies succeed, while others fail miserably? Is it because of content? QUibi could never compete with the diversity of Youtube’s content, or the quality of Disney plus. Or is it complete luck? If you were going to create a new streaming or video sharing platform, what would you choose as your unique selling point. Quibi chose short videos and horizontal/vertical formats. Disney, Netflix, Amazon, HBO etc all make their own unique high level content. WHat would you do? How could online video viewing be improved?

Comprehension Questions

Q. What two words were combined to make the name Quibi?

A. Quick Bites

Q. How much money did the company raise?

A. $1.8 billion

Q. How many subscribers did Quibi have when it shut down?

A. 400,000

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