Amid a full year of struggles, Jeffrey Katzenberg may be looking to sell Quibi, according to the Wall Street Journal. The beleaguered mobile video platform has failed to get traction within a crowded streaming space, and despite billions backing it, Quibi still remains fairly aimless six months after launch.
Without diving into all of the reasons why Quibi hasn’t resonated enough with consumers, it’s worth focusing on what’s next. What sort of buyer could actually find value in Quibi? And what aspects of Quibi actually prove valuable as an asset?
WSJ notes that potential suitors could include Alphabet or Amazon — not a surprise given the seemingly endless piles of cash both companies have. However, both already have various video plays and don’t have any true use for Quibi, which is dwarfed by the likes of Google’s various YouTube platforms and Amazon’s growing video empire.
More traditional media companies could be interested, too. But with traditional TV hemorrhaging money this year and others like AT&T already looking to offload assets, those companies would lack any real ability to acquire Quibi. Or need to, really, since all have their own streaming services with mobile capabilities already.
Quibi’s strengths don’t come from its user base, content inventory or even the technology, necessarily. It’s the individual creators involved. That’s not a strong sales pitch for pricing. But it could be the sort of thing that makes it more appealing for the likes of Oracle and Walmart, who just made their own splash acquiring a stake in TikTok.
Despite being driven by short-form, user-generated content, TikTok actually resonates with its audience, continues to grow and is becoming a jumping-off point for the next wave of digital entertainers. It hasn’t struggled to place talent into more “traditional” video conversations, but Quibi’s roster of A-list collaborators and production chops could help that transition ramp up considerably.
Realistically, Quibi could just be folded into TikTok as its “premium” content arm, and grow its stars into short-form shows that already have buy-in from noteworthy actors, producers and directors. Having some A-listers didn’t work for Quibi’s original roster of shows. Audiences could already see those stars elsewhere on a regular-sized screen, the shows largely lacked quality and there was little to truly differentiate the content from anything else you could watch on your phone.
With Quibi folded into TikTok, you instead have marketable stars with engaged audiences being placed into “show” environments that feel like natural extensions of the brand they’ve already built. Working with industry veterans helps smooth the edges around production. Over time, the TikTok-Quibi pipeline potentially becomes a real competitor to the likes of Facebook and YouTube, and maybe even the premium mobile video platform of choice it was originally aiming to be.
Such limited upside for Quibi creates a pretty short list of buyers — especially without really knowing the price tag. Still there are pieces to use here for the right partner… whoever they may be.