October 27, 2020: Quibi is shutting down; Instagram launches badges for live streams; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) makes her Twitch debut

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week: 


Quibi’s Short-Form Failure

The Story

Short-form video app, Quibi, is shutting down — just six months after its launch. 

WTF is Quibi?

Quibi, short for “quick bites,” was founded in 2018 by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman. The company looked to distinguish itself by focusing on what it called “turnstile” videos, allowing the viewer to rotate the phone from vertical to horizontal and have the content play in full screen in either direction. 

So, that’s how the company differentiated itself?

That, in addition to high quality, celebrity-level content. At its launch, Quibi had planned on releasing three hours of new content weekly, as part of a bid to make watching Quibi part of a daily routine. 

Oh, and not to mention the $1.75 billion the platform had raised in capital. 

Speaking of numbers, let’s take a look.

Advertising is never cheap — and Quibi’s spend sure was no exception. Quibi spent $63.7 million on linear TV advertising this year, generating 2.76 billion total impressions. At first, its advertising and messaging was centered around “intro to Quibi”-type spots on high viewership programs (think: NBA, Super Bowl, Oscars). However, in the latter half of this year, messaging shifted to become show-focused, promoting the Hollywood talent that had shows on the platform, in the hopes that the celebrities would drive subscriptions. Spoiler alert: they didn’t.  

And why’s it shutting down?

Everyone seems to have a theory. Some are blaming the pandemic-induced stay-at-home orders that have prevented commuting — since Quibi was designed for short-form viewing (think: on-the-go situations, like commuting to and from work). Others say Quibi was destined for failure since its launch, citing the lackluster content, high price point and changing viewing habits, among other reasons. 

What’s Quibi saying?

“All that is left now is to offer a profound apology for disappointing you and, ultimately, for letting you down.” – Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, Quibi Founders

That’s all, they wrote. 


Our POV on why Quibi shut down? Quibi thought Hollywood talent would be enough to not only attract viewers, but get them to pay for content. But when there’s already so much free content from arguably equally talented creators on social media platforms, why would consumers be willing to pay Netflix-subscription prices for content from “celeb creators.”

For Quibi’s sake, let’s hope this failure is short-form — we mean, term. Although Quibi wasn’t quite able to live happily ever after like Katzenberg and Whitman had hoped, its demise has taught us a few things:  

  • Agility is key: Consumer behaviors have drastically shifted in many ways since the start of the pandemic. Specifically, consumers have been consuming more content than ever before. Quibi had an opportunity to pivot its messaging and product positioning from consuming content on-the-go to meet the new needs of the modern day consumer, but failed to do so. 
  • Influencers > Hollywood talent: Quibi’s target audience, young millennials and Gen Z, didn’t care that Hollywood talent was behind the camera. Time and time again, we see that this audience is drawn to influencers (think: micro- and macro-) more than celebrity creators. 
  • People aren’t going to pay if they can get it for free: People can get short-form content for free, at the touch of their fingertips, via YouTube and TikTok. Quibi’s offering and business model didn’t position it to compete with free ad-supported content offerings.




Instagram Launches Badges

The Story

Instagram has expanded its “badges” feature in Instagram Live, giving more than 50,000 creators new ways to make money on the platform.

How will this work?

Users can pay a small fee (either $0.99, $1.99 or $4.99) to receive a badge which is displayed next to their name when they comment on a creator’s live stream. According to Instagram, badges will not only call attention to the fans’ comments, but they also unlock special features, like a placement on a creator’s list of badge holders and access to a special heart badge.  

To kick things off, Instagram says it will also temporarily match creator earnings from badge purchases during live videos, starting in November. 


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the platform that optimizes creators’ experiences best will become creators’ platform of choice. With 68 percent of users coming to Instagram to interact with creators, the success of the platform is largely dependent on the success of its creators. Similar to badges on Twitch and other live streaming platforms, badges on Instagram provide another opportunity for creators to earn revenue from the platform — aside from brand partnerships. 

While badges aren’t entirely new to Instagram (they were rolled out to a limited number of creators this past spring), the expansion still proves significant — especially given the rapid growth of Instagram Live. The expansion of badges not only shows the continued growth of Live as a viable channel for creators to earn revenue, but also suggests the initial success of badges as a new creator monetization opportunity for live streaming. However, where Instagram houses so many content formats (photos, videos and live streams), it needs monetization for all content formats in order to ensure all creators have equal ability to monetize their content. 


Twitch Gets Political

The Story

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made her Twitch debut and quickly became one of the platform’s most popular streamers ever. 

Give me the deets.

Last Tuesday at 9:00pm, AOC signed onto Twitch to play Among Us and encourage viewers to vote. During her time streaming, she managed to attract 435,000 viewers and her stream became the third-most watched created by any individual person on Twitch.


Twitch has seen massive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the streaming website has an average of over 2 million concurrent viewers to date in 2020, almost double what it recorded in all of 2019. 

Marketers have an opportunity to take a page out of AOC’s playbook – find the popular games and/or topics and use them as an opportunity to attract viewers and share a message. For AOC, it was about encouraging viewers to get out and vote. Brands, on the other hand, have the opportunity to partner with streamers within certain topics/categories to relay a message around a new product, deal, service or more. 



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