Malibu Seen: All Bets Are Off For Quibi

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The bite-sized media company Quibi was doomed to fail.

Malibu’s DreamWorks SKG founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and media exec Meg Whitman had high hopes for their short-form video service called Quibi. 

Those hopes were dashed and the billion-dollar streaming video service will shut down after less than a year. 

The electronic experiment was one of the most closely watched and ambitious start-ups in years.

But the pieces didn’t fall into place for the new company. 

It came out of the gates bursting with optimism, a big budget and new buyers hungry for fresh material. In addition, there was an added perk: creators would be able to retain ownership of their projects. 

“Our deal is one of the most attractive deals that anyone can get today” Katzenberg said last year at an industry event promoting Quibi.

The entertainment exec says he and Whitman raised $1.75 billion to squeeze into the booming digital video market. It now goes back to square one after failing to attract viewers to pay to watch its shows. 

Based in Hollywood, Quibi had a staff of some 260 people.

Today, after Quibi’s unexpected fall, studios and showrunners are trying to figure out what to do with the productions they have created and spent months developing for the platform. 

News operations including big guns like CBS’ “60 Minutes” had staff members create something called Quibi’s “daily essentials” for the organization’s “quick bites” format. There are also Quibi’s movie collections, which are broken into short 10-minute chapters. 

Each one features a beginning, middle and cliffhanger ending to keep the suspense going. The city’s top entertainment reporters say these mini movies would be extremely difficult to pitch anywhere elsewhere in town. 

The little video train that couldn’t find an audience will now begin the process of selling off its assets. 

“The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched,” said Katzenberg. “Now our stand-alone business model is no longer viable.”

He also acknowledged all the hard work his staff and investors put into the project, adding, “I am deeply grateful to our employees, investors, talent, studio partners and advertisers for their partnership in bringing Quibi to millions of mobile devices.”

Quibi, which is short for “quick bites,” launched in April amid the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It rolled out with a bold plan to deliver super short movies and shows, which seemed perfect for audiences with short attention spans but who wanted quality offerings. 

So, while JK—who co-founded SKG with fellow entertainment kings Steven Spielberg and David Geffen—is used to having hits, this time there was room for a miss.