What is Quibi, and does the data and market support its launch?

Photo courtesy of Quibi

According to Vulture, Quibi is a “subscription-based streaming platform designed to deliver short-form scripted and unscripted content to your cell phone. The name is a mash-up of the words “quick” and “bites,” a nod to the fact that episodes of Quibi shows will run roughly seven to ten minutes in length.”  Quibi will cost $5 or $8 per month (the $5 service includes advertisements).  The mobile-focused streaming service led by former DreamWorks and Hewlett Packard executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman has over thirty projects and partnerships with $1 billion projected invested in content at its launch.  Both executives have said that the platform is not meant to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, or HBO Max. 

The reader may have seen commercials promoting Quibi during the Super Bowl and on other streaming platforms, including advertisements on YouTube.  The question is does the data and market support the launch of such a platform during the “streaming wars”?  Here are three reasons why the platform is set up for success. 

1. People’s attention spans are narrowing

Despite reports that people’s attention’s spans are lessening, the truth is that people’s attention spans are narrowing in the information age.  As people have more access to information than ever before through the internet, platforms, Wi-Fi, etc., consumers have to constantly think about what is important to them more so than going through the effort of reading a book, asking, or listening to someone who knows the answer(s).  This means platforms have to think strategically about how and where to reach their customers.   Quibi’s short-form content hits the trend head on to meet the consumers where they are at currently.  The question will be whether Quibi’s content will be compelling enough to draw the attention of consumers. 

2. Average length of a YouTube video

YouTube rules and statistics provide that “When you first sign up with YouTube, your account will be limited to videos under 15 minutes, until the account has been ‘verified’ . . . [and of] the top ten most popular YouTube videos, the shortest was 42 seconds, and the longest was 9 minutes and 15 seconds.  The average video length was 4 minutes and 20 seconds.”  Quibi’s length is within the preferred length space and demonstrates that its main competitor might be the free, but ad-based YouTube versus traditional streaming platforms.  Again, the question will be whether Quibi’s content will be compelling enough to draw the attention of consumers (in this case away from YouTube, and enough to pay for access to it). 

3. In a Quibi moment: Content now and everywhere, wherever, quickly

Quibi is so quick it is becoming a verb.  The commercial advertisements that are promoting Quibi are using moments in time to explain that things in life can be done in a “Quibi moment”.  This is a brilliant marketing tactic because making something a verb, or action, like “Google it” versus “search for it” or “use the internet” allows for one brand to dominate a space.  Has the reader ever heard someone say “use Internet Explorer” or “I Internet Explored it”?  Unlikely.  Interestingly, Quibi being used as a verb may also lead to genericide, the result of a trademark becoming generic (e.g., used in practice as the name of a category that is actually a service or product).  

Quibi is distributed and consumed very quickly.  It is a coincidence or ironic that the first letter of the named platform starts with a “q” to match the quickness of distribution and consumption? Maybe both.  Arguably, production for content on the Quibi platform is also done more quickly (and less expensive) because the length is shorter and therefore less content to produce. 

Taken all together, Quibi makes all the sense (cents), both literally and figuratively.  Its content will be both quick and easy to access and consume.  That strategy is following the trends of content consumption in terms of narrowing attention spans, length of popular videos on other platforms, and in marketing to dominate an area by becoming the verb of doing something.  Despite genericide issues, Kleenex still dominates in the sales of tissue and Google has its trademark. 

Again, however, the on-going question will be whether Quibi’s content will be compelling enough to draw the attention of consumers.  At a cost of $5 or $8 per month (similar to Disney+ and Apple+), its thirty projects and partnerships with $1 billion projected invested in content at its launch will help attract attention.  Nevertheless, the attractiveness of content is what leads consumers to pay for it.  Overall, Quibi’s strategy is a solid one built on consumer use data and marketing tactics that should see it compete successfully in a new marketplace (e.g., purchased short-form content). 

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