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Is Quibi making a comeback? Short drama apps experienced unprecedented revenue growth in the first quarter of 2024.


Was Quibi simply ahead of its time? Jeffrey Katzenberg, the founder of Quibi, initially attributed the failure of his short-form video app to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, recent data from the app store suggests that perhaps the concept popularized by Quibi — original shows segmented into short clips for quick entertainment — is experiencing a resurgence. In the first quarter of 2024, there was a notable increase in revenue generated by 66 short drama apps such as ReelShort and DramaBox. These apps collectively pulled in a record $146 million in global consumer spending.

This figure represents a staggering 8,000% rise from the $1.8 million recorded in the first quarter of 2023, when only 21 similar apps were available. Since then, an additional 45 apps have entered the market, collectively earning around $245 million in gross consumer spending and amassing approximately 121 million downloads.

In March 2024 alone, consumers spent a staggering $65 million on short drama apps, marking a remarkable 10,500% increase from the $619,000 spent in March 2023.

According to data from Appfigures, the revenue growth began accelerating in fall 2023, leading to a significant spike between February and March of 2024. During this period, global revenue surged by 56% to reach $65.7 million, up from $42 million. While the increase in the number of available apps certainly contributed to this growth, factors such as marketing, advertising expenditure, and consumer interest also played pivotal roles.

The top-grossing apps in Q1 2024 were ReelShort (No. 1) and DramaBox (No. 2), which generated $52 million and $35 million, respectively. Together, these two apps accounted for approximately 61% of the revenue generated by the top 10 apps.

The third-ranking app, ShortTV, grossed $17 million globally in Q1, representing 12% of the total revenue.

Interestingly, these apps, unlike Quibi’s earlier attempt to establish a presence in this space, are characterized by lower-quality content. In comparison to Quibi’s offerings, which were often criticized for their quality, the stories featured in these apps are likened to snippets from low-budget soap operas or mobile storytelling games brought to life, as described by TechCrunch last year.

Despite the subpar acting and writing, these apps seem to have attracted a modest audience nonetheless.

In terms of both installations and revenue, the United States leads significantly among the top markets for this category. However, the charts vary depending on which countries are downloading versus paying for the content.

By installations, the top markets following the U.S. are Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Brazil. On the other hand, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the Philippines constitute the top markets by revenue, aside from the U.S.

In Q1 2024, short drama apps witnessed nearly 37 million installations, marking a staggering 992% increase from 3.4 million in Q1 2023. ReelShort and ShortTV are the top two apps by downloads, with the former accounting for 37% of installations, or 13.3 million, and the latter with 10 million installations, constituting 27%. DramaBox, which ranks second in terms of consumer spending, holds the third position in installations with 7 million downloads, accounting for 19%.

Image Credits: Appfigures

Reflecting broader app store trends, the bulk of the revenue (63%) comes from iOS, while Android dominates in terms of downloads, accounting for the majority (67%).

Despite the growth in this market segment, short drama apps still lag behind their closest competitors — short-form video and streaming video. Short drama apps collectively held a 6.7% share of the total revenue across all three categories combined, marking an increase from 0.15% a year ago. However, the broader video app market remains significantly more lucrative.

For instance, the top 10 apps across the combined three categories, which include platforms like TikTok and Disney+, raked in $1.8 billion in revenue in Q1.

Image Credits: Appfigures

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