Nolte: Quibi Was Always a $1.7 Billion Bad Idea and Now It’s Struggling

AFP Robyn Beck
AFP Robyn Beck

Quibi could not have asked for a better launch environment. Here we are, all locked up in our homes desperate for new content, desperate for distractions. We’re a literal nation of captives, and after just over a week past its launch, SlashFilm reports Quibi has already dropped out the Top 40 free apps in the country.

And no wonder… On the first day of its much-heralded and publicized launch, Quibi managed to only earn 300,000 downloads, which is 7.5 percent of the number of those who downloaded Disney+.

After a week, Quibi managed to attract only 1.7 million downloads, compared to the 10 million who signed on to Disney+ in that same amount of time.

Oh, and did I mention the app is free and comes with a free 90-day trial and that Quibi is brought to us by no less than DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, and that pretty much every major studio and a ridiculous amount of talent is on board…?

So what is Quibi?

Well, it’s a streaming TV service that costs $5 a month if you’re willing to put up with advertising and $8 a month if you are not. And while Whitman claims that 1.7 million number is more than expected, we still don’t know how many of those 1.7 million will pay to subscribe after the 90 day free trial.

Using their initial $1.7 billion investment, Quibi launched with a ton of content: Reality shows. Documentaries. Horror. Sports. Music. Comedy. Drama. News.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, you must be thinking… Streaming TV? Big stars? Only $5 a month? Lots of content? Why describe it as a bad idea?

It’s not just a bad idea, it’s a terrible idea…

For whatever reason, Quibi — which stands for Quick Bites —  offers its programming in seven to ten minute episodes. This includes movies.

Worse still, unless you know how to do that screen cast thingy to a TV, you can only watch it on a mobile device.

I liked this idea better when it was called YouTube, and YouTube isn’t even able to convince a whole lot of people to pay for its service.

Honestly, why would anyone pay for a service that is already free all over the internet, and has been for two decades?

You might argue that’s a crazy thing to say: There’s no service like this! Jennifer Lopez and Kevin Hart aren’t making ten-minute shorts for free on YouTube!

Fine. If there’s a massive market for Jennifer Lopez and Kevin Hart short films, Quibi is going to do just fine. But that’s not really what Quibi is selling. What it is in fact selling is distraction. Quibi believes that while we’re trapped in a waiting room or on the bus, that during a coffee break, we will pay a monthly fee to be distracted in quick bites.

That’s what they’re selling.

Well, let me qualify that a bit.

What’s Quibi is selling is boutique distraction, high-end distraction, distraction with gloss and sparkle… This is Hollywood-produced distraction. Quibi is gambling almost two billion dollars on the notion there’s a market for distraction produced a couple of notches above the mostly amateur distraction people have been consuming for a decade on YouTube and PornHub.

Come on, is that really what people want?

Are people willing to pay a monthly fee for that?

Was there some kind of cry out there for Hollywood-produced distraction because YouTube just isn’t cutting it, not to mention all the other distractions available throughout the vast space of the InterWebDotNets?

Not only that, a quick perusal of Quibi’s offerings look like a whole lot less fun than what you can find on YouTube. Drag queens, Fierce Queens, Fight Like a Girl, Gayme Show…  Get it? GAYme Show. Get it? Gay.

Quibi’s whole catalogue reeks of identity politics, a social justice lecture, social engineering, and fun only for those who prefer lectures and instruction over a good time — over what YouTube offers, which is a ton of FREE content from people who make fun of and criticize Quibi’s pious garbage.

I love movies and TV. I’ve completely embraced this Golden Age of TV, and Quibi looks like it’s less fun than reading Vox.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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