Quibi, We Hardly Knew Ye: 6 Highlights From the Streamer's Brief Run

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If Quibi wasn’t a brilliant experiment in streaming television, it certainly was a bold one. Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman thought Quibi and its “quick bites” of content were the future of television—the startup was even called NewTV at first—but the $2 billion venture couldn’t cut it in the streaming wars.

Katzenberg and Whitman confirmed on October 22 that Quibi will be shutting down after just six months, with a customer support article citing December 1 as the streaming platform’s last day online.

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“Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did,” Katzenberg and Whitman wrote in an open letter on Medium. “Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us.”

The duo speculated that Quibi didn’t succeed “because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing”—or, perhaps, a combination of the two.

Still, Katzenberg and Whitman did do some things right. Here’s a recap of their successes—including Quibi’s celebrity roster, its Emmy victories, and even its eleventh-hour move to TV sets.

Jeffrey Katzenberg
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Quibi

Nearly $2 billion in investments

By August 2018, Katzenberg and Whitman had rustled up $1 billion in seed money from every major Hollywood studio—including Disney, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and WarnerMedia—according to Variety. And by launch, they had secured another $750 million in funding and sold $100 million in ad inventory.

Kaitlin Olson, Lena Waithe
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Quibi

A-list involvement

The list of celebrities who were in front of the camera or behind the scenes at Quibi is stupidly long. A very abridged roster: Chrissy Teigen, Jennifer Lopez, Tituss Burgess, Chance the Rapper, Demi Lovato, Liam Hemsworth, Reese Witherspoon, Queen Latifah, Will Forte, Lena Waithe, Ariana Grande, and Zac Efron.

Quibi Screens
Quibi on Facebook

Turnstyle technology

One of the biggest selling points for Quibi was that viewers could watch programming with their phones in portrait mode or in landscape mode—and could switch between the modes at any point in each episode.

“Vertical feels quite intimate. You’re quite closer [to the camera] and you don’t have all the cinema-scope around you,” Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, who helmed the Quibi show Don’t Look Deeper, told Axios in January. “In a landscape format, you feel more of the environment—what the character is interacting with. It’s interesting—you could watch the whole show twice.”

Run This City Jasiel Correia
Quibi

Highly-regarded series

Critics glommed onto many Quibi titles, especially the nonfiction offerings. Case in point: The documentary series Prodigy, Shape of Pasta, Run This City, and I Promise all have Rotten Tomatoes scores of 80 percent or higher.

Run This City, for example, is a docuseries about Jasiel Correia, the scandal-plagued ex-mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts. “All great documentaries have a compelling central figure, and [filmmaker Brent] Hodge has struck gold with Correia, who projects a know-it-all manner, trash talks former mayors, steadfastly proclaims his innocence, and doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut,” wrote IndieWire’s Elliott Smith.

#FreeRayshawn Laurence Fishburne
Quibi

Emmy wins

In September, a month before the shutdown announcement, Quibi celebrated two Emmy wins with Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones both winning trophies for their work in the Quibi series #FreeRayshawn. Six other Quibi actors scored 2020 Emmy nominations, and the streaming platform’s Reno 911! and Most Dangerous Game were nominated for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.

The Verge, however, pointed out that Quibi’s domination in the short-form categories might have more to do with the dearth of competition in those categories.

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TV apps

And earlier this month, Quibi finally released apps for Apple TV, Android TV and Fire TV, after months of sticking to their on-the-go M.O. and limiting their series to mobile screens.

The move came months too late, however: News of the Quibi’s impending shutdown broke just two days later.