Revisiting perennial gambler Jeffrey Katzenberg’s interview on the Quibi launch

Hosted by

Jeffrey Katzenberg said the pandemic and the concept might be to blame for Quibi’s demise. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Just six months after its launch, Quibi will soon be no more. The streaming service announced it will shut down and take its content online on Dec. 1.

Former Disney and DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman had raised $1.75 billion to spend on a simple pitch: 

short content designed to be watched on phones. Quibi, meaning “quick bites,” marketed itself toward on-the-go millennials who usually watched videos while commuting.

Drawing on Katzenberg’s Hollywood connections, Quibi worked with big studios and brought in celebrities like Guillermo del Toro, Chance the Rapper, and Jennifer Lopez, but the content and format drew poor reviews from critics. The app also launched without the capability to share clips or screenshots from its programming, which is one reason why some analysts say it failed to build buzz online.

Priced at $4.99 to $7.99 per month, Quibi failed to differentiate itself enough to break through in an increasingly crowded market of streaming services. A month after its launch, Quibi’s downloads were paltry, ranking below the language-learning app Duolingo. In July, Quibi lost 90% of its paid subscribers after the three-month free trial ended. 

Last month, news broke that Katzenberg and Whitman were looking for a buyer. Apple, Warner Bros., and Facebook reportedly all passed. Quibi also struck out on selling rights to its programming in a blanket deal.

Katzenberg, a self-professed gambler who almost went professional before starting his business career, talked to KCRW in April, just two days after Quibi launched. This is a replay of that conversation in light of the Quibi news.

Credits

Guest:
Jeffrey Katzenberg - Producer, former head of Walt Disney Studios, co-founder of DreamWorks, co-founder of Quibi

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker