My Theory Is That Quibi Is a Dumb Idea

Nicole Sperling, reporting for The New York Times:

Jeffrey Katzenberg hasn’t left his Beverly Hills home in nearly 50 days. Deprived of a frenetic schedule that, before the coronavirus pandemic, typically meant three breakfast meetings, three lunch meetings and a working dinner, the veteran executive has filled his days with what he calls “Zoom-a-roo” videoconferences as he tries to rejigger Quibi, the streaming app he started with Meg Whitman a little more than a month ago.

That daily schedule sounds like hell on earth.

Downloads have been anemic, despite a lineup that includes producers and stars like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Idris Elba, Steven Spielberg and Chrissy Teigen.

The service, which offers entertainment and news programs in five- to 10-minute chunks, was designed to be watched on the go by people who are too busy to sit down and stream TV shows or movies. It came out when millions of people were not going anywhere because of stay-at-home orders across the country.

“I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus,” Mr. Katzenberg said in a video interview. “Everything. But we own it.”

My gut feeling is that it has nothing to do with the quarantine and everything to do with the fact that the entire concept behind Quibi is fundamentally flawed. A service where every show is broken up into 5- to 10-minute chunks for “people who are too busy to sit down and stream TV shows or movies” sounds suspiciously like a service designed for someone whose typical day is so preposterously over-scheduled that it involves, say, three meetings at breakfast, three more at lunch, and a “working dinner”. Which is like no one.

It’s stupid to design an entire streaming service for a specific device type. Make sure your streaming service works well on phones? Smart. Design it so that it only works on phones? Idiotic.

Monday, 11 May 2020