The Entertainment Value Curve: How TikTok Succeeds Where Quibi Fails


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 06, 2023

3 min read


The Entertainment Value Curve: How TikTok Succeeds Where Quibi Fails

In the world of mobile video apps, success is not just about providing a viewing experience. It's about creating a social experience that keeps users engaged and coming back for more. TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video app, has mastered this concept, while Quibi, a similar platform, has struggled to gain traction. So, what is the key to TikTok's success and Quibi's failure?

One important factor is the emphasis on production value and social value. TikTok understands that entertainment value is the result of combining these two elements. The more socially connected viewers feel to the content, and the higher the quality of the content, the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

TikTok's approach differs from platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and Netflix. Snapchat offers tools for anyone to create fun content, even with low production value. Instagram has lowered the bar for what is considered "Instagram-worthy," making lower production value content readily accessible. YouTube and Netflix, on the other hand, focus on high production value content created by professionals.

The key to understanding the success of TikTok lies in its ability to strike a balance between production value and social value. TikTok prioritizes topical content and personal connection over high production value, creating a unique space for users to express themselves and connect with others. This approach has resonated with Gen Z, who spend an average of 80 minutes a day on TikTok.

TikTok's algorithm also plays a crucial role in its success. Unlike YouTube and Instagram, which heavily favor views and likes, TikTok's algorithm gives new content a chance at virality. This levels the playing field for new creators and encourages authenticity. By reducing the production gap and making it easy for anyone to create engaging videos, TikTok has empowered a new generation of content creators.

But what can we learn from Quibi's failure? Quibi made the mistake of focusing too much on the length and format of its content, rather than on creating a shareable and social experience. While short-form content is popular, it is the social element that truly drives engagement. Vine, a now-defunct platform, understood this concept and gained a devoted following of users who continued to share Vine compilations even after the platform shut down.

Innovation and success in the entertainment industry are not limited to young entrepreneurs or college dropouts. Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in his fifties, and Reed Hastings launched Netflix Originals in his fifties as well. Age should not be a limiting factor when it comes to creating new products and experiences.

So, how can companies leverage the lessons from TikTok's success and Quibi's failure? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Prioritize social value: Instead of solely focusing on production value, companies should strive to create content that fosters personal connections and encourages users to share and engage with each other.
  • 2. Empower new creators: Reduce the production gap by providing tools and resources that allow individuals to create high-quality content, regardless of their professional background or equipment.
  • 3. Embrace the power of algorithms: Develop algorithms that give new content a chance to be seen and shared, rather than favoring established creators. This creates a more level playing field and encourages diversity in content creation.

In conclusion, the success of TikTok and the failure of Quibi can be attributed to their understanding of the Entertainment Value Curve. By prioritizing social value and empowering new creators, companies can create engaging and shareable content that resonates with users. Innovation in the entertainment industry is not limited to a specific age group or background. It's about finding the right formula for creating value in people's lives.

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