News & Analysis
Quibi is now available on television via apps on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV devices, six months after its launch in April.
Update: The Wall Street Journal reported the afternoon of October 21 that Quibi will shut down.
That may not sound like a big deal for a video streaming service. After all, the majority of viewing is still done on the traditional television.
But Quibi, which was started by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg and Silicon Valley veteran Meg Whitman, was intended to be a mobile-only venture. They thought the service’s short episodes (none are more than 10 minutes) would appeal to young people who are more likely to watch mobile video, particularly while commuting.
That argument was suspect in 2018 when Katzenberg and Whitman first announced plans for Quibi, but the Covid-19 pandemic smashed it into a million pieces. The young commuter, the Quibi target audience, was rendered an endangered species by the virus.
The ideal audience was suddenly sitting at home desperate to watch something on their TVs. But they couldn’t watch Quibi unless they pulled out their phones. And who wanted to watch a tiny phone screen when you were trapped in your living room and could watch your beautiful 60-inch 4K set?
Consequently, by all measures, Quibi has been a historic flop and there are reports the executive team now either plans to sell the company or fold it.
The price is not the problem. Quibi costs just $4.99 a month after a 14-day free trial. But the arrogance of launching a video service without an easy way to watch it on television — and doing so in the early days of an international health crisis — probably can never be overcome.
So download that Quibi app while you can. (Unless you have Roku, and then you still can’t watch it.) Quibi is now in the equivalent of a technology ICU unit.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann