Quibi disaster: how to lose $1.75b on something you don’t understand
Image: The Hindenburg explodes. Sam Shere (1905–1982) – Zeppelin-ramp de Hindenburg / Hindenburg zeppelin disaster
‘No I don’t have any data – but it’s true,’ says Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, as he turned Quibi into a Hindenburgian explosion in the digital domain.
Digital short-form series, often referred to as web series, has been around since the early days of the internet. National funding bodies, broadcasters, production studios, streaming services and even apps became hypnotised by the huge numbers of clicks they secured. They began to acquire and thus fuel the production of series, which helped a new generation into mainstream media.
Surely online streaming could provide new audiences for short films as well, and bring the same career magic to filmmakers?
In a way, the Western screen sector was taunted by the evolution of short film entertainment across China, Japan and other Asian countries, where commuters on their way to work created rich pickings in a vast market.
What followed was a saga of misunderstanding, overconfidence and sheer rigidity which is sad but instructive.
Only six months after its launch, Hollywood mobile short-form app Quibi announced in late October that it will be shutting down after failing to find a buyer. The collapsed venture thus claims pride of place in a line of commercial failures in the relatively short history of short-form series, in what can only be described as a predictable ending…
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