Quibi is already dead

By Jared Newman

Quibi, the streaming service that spent lavishly to have top talent make short-form videos, is shutting down after just six months, The Wall Street Journal reports. Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg reportedly informed investors of the decision this afternoon after trying to sell the venture to no avail.

The service, which cost $5 per month or $8 per month without ads, built up an immense amount of prelaunch hype on the strength of its leadership and ability to raise money. Katzenberg was a chairman of Disney Studios and the cofounder and CEO of Dreamworks, while CEO Meg Whitman was the former chief executive of HP. Even before launch, the service had raised $1.75 million in venture capital.

One could point to many reasons for Quibi’s failure, including its strict time limit of 10 minutes per video, its self-defeating attempts to stop people from sharing content on social media, or its focus on smartphone use at a time when everyone was holed up at home watching TV.

But the bigger problem may have been the content itself. As New York’s Benjamin Wallace reported in July, many of Quibi’s shows had been “widely shopped elsewhere” before they landed on the service. “If we have a show that’s going to be a huge hit, you pitch to Netflix, HBO. If it doesn’t get traction, you pitch to Quibi,” one producer said.

Not that Quibi’s content will be locked away forever. Creators will get the rights to full-length edits back after two years, and they’ll get the short-form rights after seven.

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