A couple months in, Quibi still looks like the answer to a question users weren’t asking. As this behind-the-scenes reporting from New York magazine notes, the free trial period for its first subscribers is about to expire. With it comes a moment of truth for Katzenberg’s gambit.
As a top-down media idea, one based on the preconceptions of its executives and not the bottom-up demand of its customers, Quibi seems doomed by a conflation of form and function and a lack of awareness of who its true competitors are.
When it comes to legacy media, user demand in a multi-device world is driven more by a desire for access than reformulation. Viewers want their existing TV when and where they are as a matter of convenience. They don’t want it chopped up or shoehorned into a different format just because they’re using it in a different context. TV and movie viewing happens on the big screen in your living room, but it also happens on your phone in bed.
As for who they’re really up against when it comes to competing for the audience’s time, check out the “Competition” section Netflix includes in its shareholder letters for a far more clear-eyed view of the landscape. (Spoiler: Think TikTok, Fortnite, etc).