Quibi ‘losing the attention game,’ analyst says

May 15, 2020, 4:43 PM UTC

The mobile-optimized, well-funded, and highly pedigreed entertainment startup Quibi launched on April 6 after more than a year of drumbeating by its two leading executives, CEO Meg Whitman and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.

It quickly fizzled.

Why? In a recent newspaper interview, Katzenberg placed blame on the novel coronavirus pandemic, which quickly eroded the “in-between moments”—at the doctor’s office, at the post office, on commutes—that the company’s short-form (less than 10 minutes) video content was built to fill.

But there’s more to it than that, according to one analyst.

In an essay published Friday, Loup Ventures managing partner (and former Piper Jaffray research analyst) Douglas Clinton writes that the company’s launch content just isn’t good enough to stand out from the pack.

“Given the demands on our time, we pay attention to new things that elicit some emotion. Things that bore us elicit no emotion, and we ignore those things. Things that excite us elicit emotion, and we often share those things,” he writes. “Quibi’s content isn’t bad, it’s perfectly fine. It’s just hard to get the attention of a new audience without very compelling content.”

Among the series on Quibi’s launch slate: feel-good celebrity surprise Thanks a Million starring Jennifer Lopez and Kevin Hart; legal comedy Chrissy’s Court starring Chrissy Teigen; raunchy comedy Dummy, starring Anna Kendrick; pop culture review Memory Hole starring Will Arnett.

The company’s release strategy is also not working, Clinton adds. Trickling episodes out on a daily basis, versus all at once à la Netflix, makes it harder for users to binge—and therefore more difficult for the company to keep new customers’ attention once it’s initially captured.

“When an attention game player gets someone’s attention, they should keep it as long as possible to create an attachment between the user and the platform,” he writes, adding that the episodic model “may have worked with traditional TV, but it’s much tougher when that attention time is under constant pressure from every other platform listed above.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—Why Katzenberg and Whitman are Hollywood’s odd couple
—“I’m a millennial, and I don’t understand what Quibi is trying to do
Watch Quibi’s Whitman and Katzenberg speak at Fortune Brainstorm Tech
—Why the coronavirus has become the great corporate smokescreen
Jeffrey Katzenberg and the future of Hollywood