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Brief Published: 7 Apr 2020

Quibi’s Missed Opportunity

Mobile video platform Quibi was created for audiences on the go. With its April 6th launch date right in the middle of a pandemic, the US company now has to connect with potential subscribers immobilised by social distancing.

Quibi was built to adapt to busy lives on the move, with 10-minute episodic content and features like Turnstyle (proprietary display technology that lets users switch seamlessly between portrait and landscape orientation). It will even feature a horror show from Stephen Spielberg that uses viewers' geolocation data to remain locked until nightfall

However, Covid-19 has hit the pause button on those dynamic in-between moments that Quibi targets. People's routines have fallen away, creating a 34% increase in video-streaming traffic as audiences binge away their unstructured time (Hollywood Reporter, 2020). Now, Quibi's most powerful contextual feature is its schedule.

Quibi shows launch with three episodes, after which new content is dropped daily. This should be a perfect opportunity to draw audiences into social appointment viewing.

The chief criticism from housebound early adopters is Quibi's inability to connect to a big screen – but the real biggest oversight is the absence of in-app social tools. Quibi needs chat and sharing features that would enable isolated viewers to watch with people outside of their households. The success of Netflixparty shows that now more than ever, people want to share digital quality time with others.

We've been tracking the emergence of 'digital campfires' – smaller online environments where consumers feel safe to focus on their passions with like-minded peers. Examples range from digital hangouts like the Houseparty app (Pop Culture Round-Up: January 2017), to Discord (Teen Media Trends 2019) and celebrity texting platform Community.

For more on digital campfires, check out State of Media 2020. To learn about live audience engagement in entertainment, see Tapping into Pop Culture's Tentpole Moments and look outfor our report on Leveraging Live-Stream Commerce, which publishes next week..