We’ve all made mistakes this year, right? Maybe you were like, with the quarantine, I’m really going to buckle down and practice my German. And then, despite the reminders, you just kinda forgot about your Duolingo. (I’m not afraid of you, Owl.) But whatever your foibles, at least you didn’t sink almost $2 billion into a brand-new company, only to see it crater within six months. Because in case you haven’t heard, Quibi is shutting down.
It’s Been 84 Years; I’ve Already Forgotten What Quibi Is
Honestly, hard same. And I wrote the guide to it. But after I wrote that guide, I just forgot that it existed. And when I remembered, when I was waiting for a takeout order, I ran into the umpteenth annoying thing about Quibi: downloads expire.
You see, if you didn’t read the guide, then you might not be aware of some of Quibi’s limitations. It was billed as the perfect way to catch “quick bites” of entertainment, like when you’re commuting. The main problem was, they launched during a period in which no one was really getting out of the house. That would have been alright, probably, except for the next issue.
Dummy, the show where Anna Kendrick becomes friends with her boyfriend’s eff doll (image via Quibi)
You couldn’t watch Quibi anywhere but your phone. It’s not just that it wasn’t available anywhere else. They also expressly designed it to disallow screen mirroring, so you couldn’t do a workaround. If you were going to watch it, then you were going to do it on their terms.
And that spread to other parts of the viewer experience as well. For example, you couldn’t take screenshots of shows while they were playing. That’s not that unusual for apps, but Quibi’s being app-only makes it a disaster. As The Verge points out, making screenshots is the first step to making memes, which has helped a number of shows go viral. You’d think a fledgling app would go for that.
Now cut back to me at the Chinese takeout, calling up the next episode of When the Streetlights Go On. It’s expired.
Quibi Shutting Down
Rachel Brosnahan in the 50 States of Fright episode, “The Golden Arm,” in which a woman becomes obsessed with her prosthetic (image via Quibi)
So unsurprisingly, Quibi is now shutting down. And I have to ask, what did y’all expect? On one hand, you’ve got Meg “I’m not sure I’d classify myself as an entertainment enthusiast” Whitman. On the other, you’ve got Jeffrey “I would say things are going really well” Katzenberg. Together they made this company that they assumed you would pay for. Because that’s another thing. Maybe they would have attracted more eyeballs if they’d offered a free version with ads. They couldn’t do that, though, because the entire business plan depended on paid subscriptions, even with ad subsidies.
And yes, they assumed you’d shell out, because they knew best. As an ex-employee told Vulture, “…there was an incredible lack of knowledge of the audience and dismissiveness of the audience.” Katzenberg would say, for example, that he knew millennials better than millennials do. Well, that’s great, but that doesn’t exclude Gen Z, xennials, Gen X, or Boomers, who freakin’ love watching videos on their phones. (Watch your mama on Facebook some time.)
Then again, it’s an unsurprising boast from the guy who swore 3D was the future. That turned out to be too expensive for what you get, too. So next time, maybe they could do it differently. They could–and I’m just spitballing here–ask people first if they would pay for whatever the next new idea is. Or they could just set 2 billion dollars on fire. Their choice.
Tell us what you think. Should they have paid off my student loans and yours with that ridiculous sum or are you really going to miss Quibi? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.
featured image of The Most Dangerous Game via Quibi
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.