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School of Podcasting


Nov 23, 2020

Today we talk about the 1.7 billion dollar mistake that was Quibi and how we can learn from their mistake. We also take a look at the power of follow up questions, and the best place to buy gear. 

Table of Contents

01:22 Your Favorite Podcast - Send in Your Answer
02:56 Now That's A Good Question: Howard Stern and Wolfgang Van Halen
06:35 Join the School of Podcasting
07:33 Lessons From Quibi
13:24 They Blew Their Launch
16:12 Big Name Celebrities
19:02 Make It Easy To Share Your Content
21:05 It's Not the Tech
23:28 Clueless About the Competition
29:49 Who is the Audience?
33:29 The Best Place to Buy Gear: Sweetwater
36:07 Your Audience Awaits Exercise

How to Avoid the 1.7 Billion Dollar Mistake that Was Quibi

Quibi is an over-the-top American short-form streaming platform that generates content for viewing on mobile devices. It was founded in Los Angeles in August 2018 as NewTV by Jeffrey Katzenberg (chairman of Walt Disney Studios from 1984 to 1994) and is led by Meg Whitman ( She is a board member of Procter & Gamble and Dropbox. Whitman was previously president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise), its CEO.

In 2019 Variety reported that Quibi had secured 100 million dollars in advertising before the service had even launched.

On February 2, 2020, they spent $5.6 million for 30 seconds on an ad in the Super Bowl that was seen by a reported 99.9 million viewers.  That is $18 per person if you round up. This for a service where subscribers can get the service for $5 per month with ads, or $8 per month without them.  That $5.6 million was a drop in the bucket.

The commercial was really stupid and didn't really answer or explain what the heck it was. You just knew it was less than 10 minutes. They explained what is was, but not so much why it was or how you would benefit.

It raised $1.75 billion from investors. It had a variety of shows featuring originals with Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Chance the Rapper, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, Lena Waithe, Nicole Richie, Reese Witherspoon. Quibi offered a 90-day free trial to those who sign up on its website before April 6. Overall, it plans to release 175 original shows and 8,500 episodes in the first year.

Their lineup has a ton of stars, celebrities, etc

It launched on April 6, 2020. It is set to shut down "on or about" December 1, 2020. December 1 is 239 days. That is $7,322,175.73 a day. Here is my thoughts on why this was such an epic fail.

They Blew Their Launch

When you spend $5.6 million dollars on a Super Bowl ad, they should have an idea what you do and what is in it for them. In the event, the ad inspired people to check out the service (it didn't), you should be able to go check it out and not have to wait four months. Yes, you can build buzz, but for me, I never heard from quibi again.

Putting All Their Faith in Celebrities

Here are some of the names that appear on shows:
Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Bell, Nick Jonas, Tracy Morgan, Aaron Rodgers, Yara Shahidi, Gabriel Iglesias, Anthony Davis, Kevin Hart and Karlie Kloss. Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, Dapper Dan, Jay Leno, and Wolfgang Puck (and that's just some).

The people involved had experience Phil Abraham has directed the Sopranos, Madmen, Daredevil, Ozark.

No Compelling Content

Yet, there was no breakout show that inspired the people who had found Quibi to tell a friend about Quibi. Nobody was compelled to tell a friend. They did recaps of the previous days news or sports updates. WOW what revolutionary content!

They Made it Hard To Share

According to Media Analyst Josh Consine there was no sharing capability (no screenshots) which limited your ability to go viral. When it first launched you could only watch it on your phone. There were no apps, not Fire TV, Chromecast. They made it "hard" to consume. They took away choices from the consumer.

They Put Their Faith in the Tech

One thing that set them apart was a feature called Turnstyle. This meant that if you rotate the phone horizontal to verticle, you would get a different camera angle. Neat? Sure. Something so cool I had to tell my friends? Apparently not as I had never heard of it until I started researching how you blow 1.7 billion and lose. In a nutshell, Turnstyle served you two video streams simultaneously and “stitches them together” with a single audio track.

Since we're talking about the Tech, a company sued Quibi shortly after their launch company called Eko alleged that Quibi stole the technology after Eko demoed it to employees of the company, including founder and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg. Even when you have billions in funding, lawsuits are expensive.

Clueless About the Competition

They were charging $5/$8 a month for new content. Look at Disney, Netflix, Hul. While they have original content, they all have old favorites as well. They also have a way to add more than one person under your account (so when your kids login under your account your recommendations don't all turn into cartoons). This was not the case to Quibi. It figured each person was watching on their phone. One person per account. This gets expensive and now anyone who wants to see what you're talking about has to use your phone.

It is reported that CEO Whitman repeatedly said "We're not competing with Netflix." Think about that one for a minute. That's like a radio station saying, "All of our songs are under four minutes long. We don't compete with other stations."

Lack Of Focus Group?

In one article that was published right after they launched it stated, "Quibi’s executives have hinted that the company will deliver on a TV experience if customer feedback and data warrant it. " Well they did add support for Apple's airplay and Chromecast, but at the expense of the Turnstyle technology. They did release an app for Roku and Fire TV - the day before they announced were closing down.

It seemed like they didn't understand how people used their phones or consumed content.

Did they think that because the average length of a YouTube video is 11 minutes that making "short" videos would be the key? Meanwhile, TikTok was taking off with all sorts of celebrities making their own channels. TikTok is free. Did Quibi follow the Facebook strategy and buy them or "borrow features" and add them to their platform? No. They were doing something different and nobody cared.

They Didn't Answer the Number Question: WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE

The idea was people could watch these short clips while waiting in line, or on the bus. When you think of people consuming content on their phone you might think it would be younger people. Yet you're trying to attract those people with Steven Spielberg and Jay Leno? Sure Cardi B appeared in an episode, but they needed to define. If the content is for busy people, who are the busy people and what do they want to watch?

According to an article in Forbes, Katzenberg and Whitman said, "We created a new form of mobile-first premium storytelling."

They did. But the stories weren't any good.

Now That's a Good Question

02:56  Today we listen to Howard Stern ask a great follow-up question to Wolfgang Van Halen. While he started off with a yes/no question, but then asked a few follow-up questions lead to the information you can't get anyplace else, and listen to how Howard shuts up and lets Wolfgang wrestle with a potentially uncomfortable topic. 

Sweetwater is My New Favorite Place to Order Gear

33:29 My co-host for Ask the Podcast Coach Jim Collison ordered something from Sweetwater and told me about their INSANE customer service. I recently saw where they were one of the few people to have the new Zoom Podtrak P4 IN STOCK and I see what he means. I was called to let me know my order had shipped, and to let me know if I had any issues I could call them. So here is why I think they are the best:

  • Prices are just as good (and in some cases better) than Amazon
  • Free shipping (even on small stuff)
  • Built-in two-year warranty 
  • Free tech support 
  • Payment plans available if needed.

My goal is to build more of a relationship with Sweetwater (as I have a dedicated rep) which should keep me in touch with podcasting technology going forward. In full disclosure, I earn a referral reward (but that's why I ordered something as I wanted to see for myself) 

Your Audience Awaits Exercise

I'm listening to the book Unhackable: The 30-Day Elixir for Creating Flawless Ideas, Leveraging Superhuman Focus, and Achieving Optimal Performance Through Flow its a very interesting book that you can listen/read to one chapter per day. The one exercise was to write yourself an email from your future audience as is these people who are waiting for you to start your show. SO MANY TIMES I hear people worried about having trolls or people say negative things. I say, What about ALL THE POSITIVE that could happen?

Think of going to your inbox and see an email with the title, "Just wanted to say Thank you." You open it and it starts, "Hello, I just wanted to reach out. You may not believe this but due to your podcast.... 

and the listener explains how you made them feel. How they no longer felt alone. How they were taken to a place where the stress of work, life, and more melted away. 

This could happen. But your podcast can't help people if you don't start your podcast. You can't update a show that doesn't exist. Please let me help you, as your audience is waiting.